Workshops for Students at St Matthew's Primary

Helen Weinstein delivered a very enjoyable set of workshops engaging students with the history of the area and the IronWorks site in particular, for which the students used the historical inspiration to co-create their own artworks. For this school engagement, Helen liasised with teachers at the local primary school about how best to engage the Year 5 students and Helen also produced all the topics for the workshop for which the students were introduced to the artist in residence at Ironworks, Hilary Cox Condron.

To commence each workshop the students were asked to be contributing to a community art mural that would be showcased on the hoardings along Hooper Street. To this end, Helen, who had already earlier in the year met the Year 5s to work on the Victorian history of Cambridge, used their knowledge about the coming of the Railway as a starting point before showing the students in each workshop the particular context of the Iron Foundry and Coprolite Mill.  We talked about the kind of skilled workers needed to work at such an industrial facility, and looked at the impact on the neighbourhood, of what was recently agricultural land of the eastern fields sold off for residential building plots.  Looking at typical Victorian housing, and the 5 plots for local Victorian schools, and the evidence for local businesses in Sturton Town, such as the Dairy on Sleaford Street and the Bakery on Sturton Street and the breweries on Gwydir Street and New Street.  


The young people were intensely interested in looking at maps and pictures, identifying places that they walk past in their daily commutes to school and to the shops and to town, recognizing iconic Victorian buildings such as the Workhouse at Ditchburn Place on Mill Road, the Infectious Diseases Hosptial, the Bath House, and the Free Library. It was wonderful to see their enthusiasm for engaging with local history and their team-work to recreate buildings such as the foundry and the workhouse.  


There were some students who illustrated imaginary shops based on descriptions Helen gave in the census, such as Henry Cable the Baker at Sturton Street, or the Headly gravestone in the Mill Road Cemetery.  Others made very close drawings to mirror pictures of the items produced by the Headly Iron Foundry, such as the Eagle Engine and the Bridge at Coe Fen.  It will be great to see these pictures on the history themed hoardings on Hooper Street, which we hope will be there to share with the entire neighbourhood by the time school starts in September! 


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