Help uncover past of Bradford estate

HISTORY PROJECT: Ravenscliffe Community Association  group members, pictured from left, Irene Lofthouse, Maureen Holmes, Arlene Borrill

HISTORY PROJECT: Ravenscliffe Community Association group members, pictured from left, Irene Lofthouse, Maureen Holmes, Arlene Borrill

First published in News by

A plea for community involvement in a peek at the past of a Bradford estate is bearing fruit.

In a link-up to the centenary of the First World War, the bid to preserve memories of Ravenscliffe has yielded valuable information.

But Ravenscliffe Community Association workers are hungry for more.

Irene Lofthouse, part of a Gateway Community Centre team which is driving the Seeds of the Past scheme, said: “We have a very good response from local history groups, people who lived in the area in the 1920s and 30s and older residents who say they will scour boxes in their attics for memorabilia. We are pleased with the way things are going, but we need lots more input from the community.”

Seeds of the Past has won an £8,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant to help research the origins of the estate. Researchers say, though, that recording and documentation of the early social history of Ravenscliffe seems to be negligible.

It is thought Ravenscliffe was built in response to the Homes Fit For Heroes effort to provide homes with gardens for those returning from conflict and foster a sense of community.

Volunteers are collecting oral histories, photos, documents, letters and family tales to build a picture of what life was really like during and after the Great War. Information will be collated and put up on a website. And half-day sessions are now being held at the Gateway for people to get involved.

Events and performances are being led by Irene Lofthouse, a professional community artist who was born and raised in the area.

She said some of the memories have been particularly poignant. One lady told volunteers: “I moved from Ravenscliffe in 1954 and it broke my heart. I wept bucketfuls.”

And a man said he thoroughly enjoyed his life in Ravenscliffe. That “it moulded the man he is today”.

Anyone who wants to get involved or share memorabilia should contact Arlene Borill at the Gateway Centre, 01274 636602.

l The project has unearthed an early aerial view of Ravenscliffe, taken by an organisation called Overland Air Views, but the find is shrouded in mystery. Irene Lofthouse said: “No-one seems to know anything about them and we would really appreciate any information.” Anyone with information about this photo is asked to call the Gateway Centre.

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