Meetings and communications

We had a successful 3rd Steering Group meeting last week.  As Terese was out presenting on our project at the ALT-C conference in Manchester I had the pleasure of demonstrating some of our newer digitised materials and learning resources:

Explore Historic and Industrial Leicester (Prezi presentation)

Walking Tour of the West End – Will Lenton (audio)

Liberty Building Photos by Skinner – mp4

We also discussed the next phase of the project – evaluation – in terms of what we had done so far (some preliminary focus groups) and what our future plans were, such as embedding them in teaching for students of varying levels both here and externally (more on this soon!).  Of key interest to us was what type of questions the steering group thought we should be asking, not only ‘have these materials aided your learning?’, but also ‘in what way?’, ‘are they engaging?’, ‘do they fit with your personal study skills?’

We also promoted our recent publicity release detailing our progress to date, where to find both our digitised materials and learning resources, our website evaluation form and our project flyer.

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The factory, the community, and de-industrialization

The project has moved on another stage in the past week, with additional learning resources and digitised primary resources being made available for our second two themes:

  • De-industrialization
  • The factory and the community (formerly The ecology of the industrial town or city)

The learning resources, produced by our Learning Technologist Terese Bird, are available both on our project website (www.le.ac.uk/manufacturingpasts) and our collection on www.myleicestershire.org.uk/

Donisthorpes craped hair - trade mark example

Donisthorpes craped hair – trade mark example

Terese has already blogged about her prezi on Frog Island (part of our de-industrialization theme), but she’s also produced one on Leicester’s Castle Ward for The factory and the community.  In addition she’s been busy listening to many hours of audio recordings of people who live in and around Walnut Street in Leicester (home of the old Liberty factory) as well as people who worked for the Corah factory, releasing extracts on certain topics, combining it with images in some cases.

Our project partners, the Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office have also digitised their selected primary resources which relate to de-industrialisation, many of which have now been uploaded and are available on www.myleicestershire.org.uk/

 Factories we have focussed on here are Friars’ Mills, owned by Donisthorpe & Co. Ltd (whose trade marks you can see in this blog), Frisby Jarvis (as Terese mentioned in her previous blog) and Hawley & Johnson (a local dyers), amongst others.

Donisthorpe were a major knitwear company in Leicester for 130 years.  We document the growth and changes experienced by the factory as it moved to computerised production, and the attempts to preserve the building once the factory closed. Sadly the building caught fire in late July, leaving only the shell remaining.  Read Terese’s blog post here: Capturing history before it goes.

At this stage we currently have 144 digitised primary resources and well over 20 learning resources across the four themes.

Donisthorpes beautiful hair - trade mark example

A virtual tour to compare past and present

At the University of Leicester Centre for Urban History, Colin Hyde has been documenting Leicester’s past and present for many years. Among the photographs Colin has contributed to the Manufacturing Pasts collection are a set depicting Leicester’s Frog Island in 2002 and 2003. Frog Island has almost no residents, but has been home to many industries, most likely because it is flanked by the River Soar and the Grand Union Canal, providing convenient shipping and transportation.

Frisby Jarvis Building in 2002. Photo courtesy of Colin Hyde

Frog Island has an icon: the Frisby Jarvis building, a worsted spinning mill. It is a very impressive building, part of a large plant which also included Farben Works, off Slater Street; it was Grade II listed in April 2003. What makes it the icon of Frog Island is the fact it almost burnt to the ground in 2005 — almost, but not quite. The centre of the building was destroyed, leaving the sides fairly intact. An enterprising car wash now functions quite happily in the burnt-out centre of the building.

Car wash situated in former Frisby Jarvis building on Frog Island. Photo courtesy of weegeebored on Flickr.

The fact that we had Colin’s photos from 2002, well before the fire, allowed me the chance to create virtual tours of Frog Island, one for 2002 and one for 2012. All I had to do was visit the places Colin had photographed back in 2002 and snap them myself. So that’s just what I did, on a sunny Saturday in late August.

But how to create a virtual tour? I decided to try using Prezi. We have received rights to ordnance survey maps of Leicester. So I uploaded into Prezi a 1995 ordnance survey map of Frog Island, then uploaded the photos and placed them as accurately as I could onto the map. I did this for both sets of photographs. I had to use the 1995 ordnance survey map for both sets of photos, because we did not receive rights to any more recent map. The final product can be viewed here on Prezi. Take the tour yourself and tell us what you think!

(Tip of the day for using Prezi: if you click More, then Fullscreen, under the presentation to the right, the images display larger and more nicely.)

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist, University of Leicester