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Mitcham in the '40s, '50s and '60s

Updated: Sep 8, 2020

At the end of November, we embarked on a reminiscence project to understand more about what The Canons, and greater Mitcham, was like in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. We appointed reminiscence and film experts Digital Drama, and together we designed a set of workshops to engage both young people and older people. We focused on finding out what life was like for teenagers in the past.

The first part of the project saw the team head to the SHINE Saturday programme (part of Mitcham Town Community Trust) and train some of the young Peer Mentors in interviewing techniques and introducing them to the decades past. They spent some time thinking about being a teenager in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, considering what might be the same and what might have changed. We found the young people had a lot of ideas from film about the 1950s and 1960s, but these were quite 'American' and we talked about the differences between the United States and Britain after the war. They visited the 'mobile museum' of handling items from the past and each student was asked to try and use a rotary phone, while they all worked together to suss out the record player. Finally, they practiced interviewing Kate and Alison from Digital Drama, and Hannah, the Community Engagement Officer, about their own teen years.

Following our training session, older residents from Mitcham were asked to join us for two reminiscence evening sessions. This project is co-funded by Clarion Futures so we were able to use the lovely Oaks building in Morden. We had older people who were teenagers in the 1940s, 1950s and the 1960s bring a diversity of experiences to the workshop. Some participants traveled to join us from as far away as Hertfordshire and Warwickshire. Everyone brought really fond memories of Mitcham and their teen years, as well as some difficult memories, especially from during and just after the War. We learned a lot about fashion, going to the Majestic, the Scouts and Guides, playing sports and spending time with friends.

A number of the participants in the workshops are joining us this week to audio-record some of their memories with Digital Drama, and these memories will be edited together with photographs from participants and the archive to create a fantastic film. The young Peer Mentors at SHINE will be assisting us in creating this film in January.

Watch out for more information about the premier of the film in the Spring of 2020!

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