Trot on back to the Past this Weekend!

Heritage and Horses blog... Family shop to five minute of fame

Heritage and Horses blog… Family shop to five minute of fame – Sourced from Deborah Curtis of the Field Theatre Group

Littleport’s famous ironmongery shop – J H Adams – that had been unchanged since and restored to its 19th century state as a Heritage Lottery funded project is opening its doors again on Saturday 23 August from 10 am till 4pm.

The real Adams family is a welcoming bunch!

The real Adams family is a welcoming bunch! Sourced from J H Adams Heritage Centre

This Family Adams Project is a time capsule that documents the fascinating paraphernalia of the local shop and lives in Littleport and the Fens by displaying the items that were for sale to the shop ledgers used as well as the photographs and objects of the related past – including that of the horse, which played an important role back then. The J H Adams Heritage Centre of Main Street will be holding a second-hand book fair to raise its funds. Come and support it by having a browse through the fine selection of good quality books while enjoying teas and coffees with them! While there, you can see the paraphernalia, photographs and information of these beasts that tolled on the land and streets for man throughout the Fenland during the centuries. The shop was transformed into an old saddler’s shop that bustled with actors and a film crew back in April to create a community film about them.

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Film crew happily involved with the Horseman's Word

Film crew happily involved with the Horseman’s Word – sourced from Deborah Curtis of The Field Theatre Group

The Horseman’s Word is another recently finished but still continuing Heritage Lottery-Funded project ran by the Field Theatre Group, a community learning, inclusive and engagement organisation based in Littleport that combine performing arts with Fenland heritage and culture.

Under ADeC and in partnership with the Wisbech, Fenland and Ely museums, the Field Theatre Group got together film makers, researchers and experts to work on a good outcome of increased interest in the true stories about heavy horses from a previous Common Ground project that gathered and taught expression of local stories in sessions and workshops. People were invited to talk to horse experts and give in historical materials like memories and photographs in workshops. A travelling museum exhibition, an on-line archive, a history field day with a local primary school, a documentary DVD and drama workshops has been coming out of it all.

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire had aired an interview about this fascinating project on June 3rd last year, and the BBC took further interest in the heritage of the heavy horses lately. BBC Look East aired their filming of the Field Theatre Group’s filming on location for a production that includes/on heavy horses on the 6pm show on Tuesday 5th August this year, and the director, Deborah Curtis was interviewed by Kevin Burke about their activity and great work. The project has grew successfully from a previous one into its glamorous conclusions of being on BBC television air time, other location shoots like near Colchester earlier this month and promoting the learning, talents and skills of the local stars from Littleport.

The BBC film crew working with the heavy horses

The BBC film crew working with the heavy horses – sourced by Deborah Curtis of The Field Theatre Group

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Stories from the Horseman’s Mouth

Heritage Lottery FundIn terms of heritage, it is all happening in Littleport! Recently, I reported on the now completed HLF-funded project which resulted in the documentation of the remarkably well-preserved Family Adams shop in Littleport – see here for the previous blog post on this.

The shop window at the old Family Adams shop currently displays images, artefacts and information for a new local project: ‘The Horseman’s Word’, which aims to research the golden age of the Fenland Heavy Horse. Recently, the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a grant to the Field Theatre Group in Littleport to carry out this project.

The Field Theatre Group’s project ‘The Horseman’s Word’ will bring together a range of people, researchers, archivists, historians, film makers, curators, photographers and heavy horse experts. In this, the Field Theatre Group will work closely with ADeC over the next 18 months to deliver this exciting new project. ADeC is also a key partner in the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme. The Field Theatre group’s project has clear links to the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme.

HMW Outside the Bull Public House junction Wisbech Rd and Camel rd

2 men and cart, outside the Black Bull, Wisbech Road, Littleport. Image courtesy of the Littleport Society.

The Fenland area has a rich heritage related to horses and horse keeping; heavy horses in particular have helped shape the land as we experience around us now.

horesmans-postcard-wright

Saddlery, Main St, Littleport, 1912 Image courtesy of the Littleport Society.

The project aims to shine a light on the unique relationships between horses and Fen Folk, also uncovering myths, folklore and magic associated with the horses. the project focuses on ‘the golden age’ of  the heavy horse between c1850 and 1950.

A series of community history gathering workshops will be held in Ely (20 & 27 July), Wisbech (29 June and 13 July) and Prickwillow over the next couple of months. Do come along and share your stories and artefacts; they may well find their way into the documentary DVD, touring exhibition and online archive which will be created as part of the project.

Find out more about the community workshops here:

final flyer cover HMW

The official launch of the Horseman’s Word project is coming Saturday, 1 June, 2-5 pm, in Littleport Village Hall. There you can meet the project team and be entertained with songs and stories from the golden age of the Fenland Heavy Horsemen. Find out more about this event here.

The Field Theatre Group has got very good experience in community projects. One of their previous projects, Common Grounds, resulted in film showing a range of stories, focusing on land workers and Fenland life at the turn of the last century. Another interesting production was Landlines, the Field Theatre Group’s multi-media touring production, incorporating actors, film footage, music, poetry and songs to bring to life the Fen landscape, its people and places. Learn more about the work of the Field Theatre Group here.

Want to know more about ‘The Horseman’s Word’? Click on the below image, which is taken from the Horseman’s Word’s flyer:

final inside flyer jpag

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