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Share your Gorton and Belle Vue stories in new oral history project
Thursday 24th January 2019 @ 15:53 by Tom Greggan
Gorton & Openshaw News Tameside

A call has gone out to past and present residents of Gorton to take part in a new oral history project at The Monastery.

Staff and volunteers at the iconic building on Gorton Lane have launched the ‘Sharing Your Story’ project, with the aim of recording a wide range of memories about The Monastery, Gorton and Belle Vue.

The memories could be about visiting Belle Vue Circus and Zoo, courting at the ballroom, going to school at The Monastery or family occasions such as weddings and christenings, as well as general life working and living in and around Gorton.

Gorton Park

One of the volunteers, Linda Hill, explained: “We have a lot of visitors who know the area; they were brought up here or had family members get married here etc.

“There are lots of memories out there that are being lost as people get older. We want to record and keep those memories for future generations to hear and to help us better inform our visitors.”

The former Franciscan friary was completed in 1867 but closed for worship in 1989 and left to ruin.

In 1997, The Monastery was placed on the World Monuments Fund Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites in the World, alongside Pomepii and the Taj Mahal.

The stunning Gorton Monastery was saved thanks to a multi-million pound restoration project. Picture: Mark Copeland

An ambitious, multi-million pound restoration was launched to save the building, which was finally reopened in 2007.

Now, it’s a premier venue for a wide-range of events and tours are also given, explaining the building’s fascinating history.

Staff at The Monastery would like to use people’s memories so that they can pass on the history of the area to future generations, and to make visits even better for today’s visitors.

“Once we collect people’s memories, we will archive them and see what would be the best thing to do with them,” Linda added. “We don’t know what we’ll come across but we’ll transcript the interview so that they can be recorded for posterity, and also incorporate what we find into existing projects and hopefully expand our existing tours.”

Gorton Lane

Interviews can be arranged at The Monsatery, where the team will be happy to show you what the site looks like now, and take you to ‘The Pantry’ café for a brew and piece of cake as a thanks for your help. Or, if you prefer, they will be happy to meet you at home.

If you have something you’d like to contribute to the ‘Sharing Your Story’ project, you can contact the team by calling 0161 223 3211, choosing option 3 and leaving your name and number.

You will also be able to find out more information about the ‘Sharing your Story’ project at The Monastery’s ‘Remembering Belle Vue’ event on Sunday and Monday, March 18 and 19.