By Genevieve Sibayan on Oct 22, 2010 Frost MagazineHigh streets across the UK are going back in time this autumn as part of an exciting new BBC LearningHands On History project and landmark BBC One series. Across weekends in October, November and December, an empty shop in 11 different towns will be transformed into a Thirties grocer store, giving today’s shoppers the chance to travel back in time and experience living history.
The project, which is set to visit Armagh, Bradford, Chatham, Clacton, Louth, Paisley, Poole, Stockport, Sunderland, Truro and Wolverhampton, will give communities the chance to learn more about their local history in a fun, exciting and hands-on way.
Visitors will be able to touch, hear and even smell what life was like on their local high street around 80 years ago, as well as share their own memories, photographs and mementoes.
With the help of local history groups, museums and archives the BBC Learning team aims to explore the past of other shops in the towns using documents such as posters, ads, bills and letters, all helping to create a high street time line.
Communities can also help create a photographic “Now and Then” archive of their area with the project’s dedicated Flickr group, or download a special guide to researching the history of their high street at the BBC History website.
The shops are part of the new six-part BBC One series Turn Back Time – The High Street, which takes four empty shops back to the 1870s and propels them through 100 years of change.
Turn Back Time will see a group of shopkeeping families from a variety of trades travel back in time where they’ll face the challenge of living and working in six very different eras of British history, from Victorian Britain right through to the Seventies, all recreated in Shepton Mallet, Somerset. Turn Back Time starts in November.
And to bring the High Street history strand right up to date, BBC English Regions TV current affairs series Inside Out will be examining how our modern day High Streets are coping with the challenging economic climate across each of its 11 regional programmes. The films will be broadcast on BBC One across England in early December.
Launching the Turn Back Time shops, BBC Learning campaign executive Nina Bell said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to bring history alive and give everyone a chance to celebrate their high street. And it’s not just about the high streets with pop-up shops – BBC Learning is working with local history partners right across the UK to develop engaging, hands-on events to bring the history of their local area to life and encourage Britain to fall in love with its high streets again. You can find all the details on our website at bbc.co.uk/history/handsonhistory.”No21x