Canning History Project

How It Began

On the night of Friday 3rd August 2012, just after a barbecue in the backyard of Canning Housing Co-op, Liz Dolan and I were talking about how much interesting history there was to the Canning area, a lot of it unwritten, and how it would be good to get a bunch of local people to research and write a book about it.  Pretty much immediately, we realized that it should be a community project, that it would need substantial funding to make it happen, and that to get a grant we’d need to do it through an organization.  Canning Housing Co-op leapt into our minds.

    The following Friday, we had a meeting in the basement cafe at Blackburne House with Len Reid, the Chair of the Co-op.  Len then presented the proposal to the Management Committee, who gave their support to the proposed project.
    Subsequently what began as the tentatively titled “Canning Area Book Idea” became the more definite “Canning History Project”, and Len Reid joined Liz and me on the steering group – and then, in truth, not much happened till 10th October, when we had the first of what were to become regular meetings in the back office at the Co-op.  Having established that the Heritage Lottery Fund was the most suitable source of funding, we spent a couple of weeks putting together a pre-application to HLF, and sent it off.

    HLF approved our pre-application, and on 14th December Rebecca Mason and Ashlyn Whitty of HLF came to meet us, make suggestions and discuss the project in more detail.  All was roses in the garden.
    From here, we put together and submitted a draft project plan and budget, then in early 2013 worked fairly frantically at trying to put together a final project plan and budget for our application under the “Your Heritage” grant scheme.  Alas, we realized too late that we didn’t have a hope in hell of putting together our full application before the entire “Your Heritage” grant scheme was scrapped at the end of January.  We resigned ourselves to filling in fresh forms for the new “Our Heritage” grant scheme.  Spot the subtle shift of person.  It’s not true that next they’ll be calling it “My First Heritage Lottery Grant”.

    The following months included seemingly endless afternoons in the back office, doing calculations and recalculations of project costs and modifications of the project plan itself.  We contacted various organizations asking for their support for the project, and had meeting after meeting after meeting, in places ranging from the Pier Head to Clitheroe Castle.  Though we had some disappointing non-responses from two or three organizations, we had particularly impressive responses from Liverpool Central Library & Archive, from BBC Radio Merseyside and also from the Museum Of Liverpool.  This latter had suffered from some delay and confusion when our initial contact officer moved away to another museum in London without passing on our details – but it all turned out nicely in the end.  Our thanks also go to the North West Sound Archive and local business OMF Derek Cox Architects.

    We eventually got the application and all the complicated supporting material together, and on 6th August 2013 we finally hit the “Submit” button on the online application form, then waited with bated breath.  And waited.  And waited.  And then, on 3rd October, HLF sent us the news that our application had been rejected.
    Undaunted (or at least not much more daunted than we had been in the first place), we went to work on a revised application asking for roughly the same amount of money, finally submitting it in early December; and on Friday 31st January 2014 we got news that our second application had been successful.

    As it turned out, there’d still be another two months of form-filling and other administrative bits and pieces with HLF and banks and so on; but on Monday 31st March the Canning History Project was at last officially up and running.