Today I tested out a new concept – a history walk where participants are encouraged to discuss their local knowledge.
Curating a thorough presentation for history walks is very time consuming and limits knowledge to that which has been laid down in previous documentation and discoverable. I wanted to try a skeletal outline of points and encourage a hive mindset to share that detail.
My simple plan was to create a Google map of points I was already aware of (based on previous research and many hours staring at old maps). I then tagged links and photos of those points. After that it was just a case of gathering people and going for a walk armed with a tablet to display the details.
I only placed a single Facebook event post in one small group (Farsley Memories) but as it was shared and gained 50 interested within just a few days, it was clear there is a demand for this. I didn’t promote the walk any further as it was just a prototype and a group of 6 would have been adequate.
On the day, the group was 12 strong – which was great! Yes, I knew one or two but most were people I didn’t really know. Several had lived locally for most of their lives and others for a significant time. However, most had something to say, which lead to good focused conversation – which is particularly good since we didn’t even have any of our local history legends present who would certainly be able to regail many tales.
I used several points to query the group for more information in places I have drawn a blank. One outcome due to the points discovered, is the resolution of the location of a tunnel I’ve been searching for (pin pointed after the walk), which means I can progress searching for further detail.
There was a general consensus with the group that most people found something they hadn’t previously known about or noticed. I focus on tangible physical remnants rather than pure stories of history which I think brings an element of reality. Even if a building is no longer present, the road names are often a shadow of the past and you start spot oddities in walls that you wouldn’t normally think about.
So what did I learn?
- The walk we did was clearly enough to be two separate walks. This was even cut down from a full available route so I guess that suggests 3 routes ready to go.
- There is definite demand for such events in the area – seen from the interest, the turnout and the follow-on comments received from those who missed.
- The whole area is rich in history but with enough generational family ties to have relatives still around.
- It’s a great theme to get people both physically active and mentally engaged.
- Simple map-index technology solutions will work – I will now progress this based on how easy I found parts to use.
The next steps will be to continue/repeat lightweight walks using the same structure but build the relationship with the local Civic Society so as to be able to gain rights to have photos publicly available.
Clearly there will need to be some monetary form both for costs and in reality, I need to build an element in to my own income otherwise nothing will progress.