Canning History Project
What’s Been Done
The Canning History Project has been up and running since the end of March 2014. Its two-year mission: to research and produce a book about the history and character of the Canning area.
We kicked off in April and May with a series of four local history talks for the public, held at the German Church on the corner of Canning Street and Bedford Street, and it was through these that we attracted most of our current core of volunteers.
Since then, we’ve had a series of training sessions for our volunteers, all led by staff members of our various supporting organizations. The first of these was an Archive Research training session led by Roger Hull, Research Officer at Liverpool Central Library & Archive. This was a vital session, as our volunteers are going to be spending a fair bit of time on archive and library research.
The Museum Of Liverpool have also been especially helpful, with archaeology curator Liz Stewart leading a local history session, and then assistant curator Jeff Speakman providing a session on historical maps of the area. Maps down the years will be one of the key ways of tracing the area’s development, especially during its main building phase in the 19th Century.
We will also be interviewing various residents and ex-residents of the area, so we’ve had a couple of training sessions in recorded interviewing: one in June from Andrew Schofield and David Brooks of North West Sound Archive (flown in direct from their scenic headquarters in Clitheroe Castle), and one in October with Pauline McAdam at BBC Radio Merseyside.
With the main training phase of the project completed, we’d just started biting into the main research phase in November 2014. It kind of feels like a slow start; but still, of our 15 regular volunteers, several are already researching more than one topic at once, so it’s already becoming important to co-ordinate that research work. Some topics, such as St James’s Cemetery, are already yielding a stack of info. In December 2014 we held another public talks evening, this one presenting the results of some of the early research by four of our volunteers. Topics included the early development of the area, in its days as Mosslake Fields; the development of Canning Street and Gambier Terrace; the disabled poet and naïve artist Elizabeth Kenning of the Female Penitentiary on Falkner Street; the Canning Street sculptor Edward Carter Preston and his works in the Cathedral; and the poet and painter Adrian Henri.
Other topics, such as Edward Falkner, are remaining surprisingly hazy for the moment – but that’s all part of the challenge.