My Route

A major community heritage project which researched and documented the history around Stratford Road in Birmingham, from the 1940s to the present day. The extensive programme of work was supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

A major community heritage project delivered by Sampad, supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Around 25,000 Birmingham residents took part in activities exploring the changing history of Stratford Road – one of the Birmingham’s busiest and best-known thoroughfares.

Working with local people between Sparkbrook and Hall Green, My Route identified changes in the population, landscape and culture from the 1940s to the present day, with the settlement and migration of new communities along the road.

It began with a wide-ranging investigation that looked at how different the demographics, faiths, trades, food, languages and architecture of the area have evolved and meshed together to create a vibrant and diverse city quarter. In partnership with Birmingham Archives, it went on to equip volunteers with new heritage research skills, using oral histories, factual data collection and public donations to uncover the unique history of the road.

A series of lively arts and culture activities gave people of all ages a chance to learn more about the story of the area.

A 1970s-styled taxi took passengers on a trip down memory lane, using props, sound recordings and storytelling to immerse them in the sights, sounds and memories of the Road. Elsewhere, students from South and City College explored the history of faith in the area, using photography to examine symbolic architecture and foodies got a taste of Stratford Road, as Sampad hosted culinary workshops at three of the most popular restaurants in the area.

One of the main highlights was the My Route Exhibition Trail, an outdoor exhibition that featured large-scale photographs of eleven everyday people who live and work around Stratford Road – drawing a lot of attention and excitement from passers-by. The portraits, by internationally-respected photographer Vanley Burke, were accompanied by personal memories from each person in the form of audio clips that were accessed by members of the public via ‘sound pods’ designed by pioneering artist Brian Duffy.

 In total, nearly 25,000 people connected with the My Route experience, either as exhibition visitors, participants or volunteers. 51 volunteers from 13 different ethnic groups clocked up 450 hours as they brought the project to life by recording interviews with residents, collecting statistics, carrying out research and compiling Wikipedia articles about the local history.

 My Route leaves a legacy of several permanent resources for future generations, including a new public archive of local memories. Sampad also joined forces with local film-maker Sam Lockyer, from Iconic Productions, to produce a new documentary (see above, top) featuring interviews with the project’s contributors, participants and volunteers.

There’s a lot more information about My Route at www.myroute.org.uk

This project was supported by: