My grandma moved down Hardy Street, just off Newland Avenue, in 1944 and has lived within two streets ever since. My Mum grew up on Alexandra Road, I went to Newland Girls, and the area has undoubtedly shaped my childhood.
My company Broccolily Theatre has been commissioned to produce a play for Assemble Fest, a one-day festival on Newland Avenue. This brilliant festival puts local theatre-makers into unexpected venues down Newland, giving companies like mine the chance to create work for the community.
The opportunity got me thinking about the avenue, the changes my grandma has seen, and what young people think about the avenue now. The idea for a show came quickly; we'd collect memories of what it was like growing up on the avenue in the past and turn these stories into a show for children. We interviewed people who grew up on Newland in the 1940s and 1950s to generate the material to make a show to tell Hull's younger residents a bit about their past.
We have support from Untold Hull, a project that archives Hull's past, and our interviews will be included in this audio archive. I've always been fascinated by oral history, listening to the memories of locals gives a platform to voices that often go unheard, so I'm excited to be contributing.
We've been so lucky with the openness of interviewees, hearing so many fascinating stories that might otherwise be lost. We've been told about a street where everyone knew each other, where children would always play out, square patties and chips for tea, and where families sang around pianos!
There's a real nostalgic, perhaps rose-tinted view of Newland's past running through these stories. At times I've been unconvinced, life without shoes doesn't seem that fun. But on the other hand we probably have lost that sense of community my grandma's generation shared with the road they lived on. We live in different times now; shops aren't run by families and kids don't play out as much. But perhaps through projects like Assemble Fest we can find something similar. On 28th May, local residents, families, students and business owners will come together on Newland to remember its past and to celebrate its now, and I'm very excited to be part of that.
Ruby Thompson, Broccolily Theatre: Square Patties and Other Scraps
First published for First Person in the Hull Daily Mail, 18.03.16