On Saturday 14th May, Hands on Middlesbrough, with help and support from local historians, ex-Residents and their families, organised a free Community Exhibition “Cannon Street Revisited” in association with The Dorman Museum, Cleveland & Teesside Local History Society and Friends of Linthorpe Cemetery Nature Reserve. The event ran throughout the day and included a talk by local historian Ian Stubbs, a screening of a collection of interviews ” Cannon Street Reunited” and a public screening of recently digitised interviews with residents filmed during the demolition of Cannon Street during the 1960s and 1970s (courtesy of North East Film Archive and BBC North East & Cumbria). We also launched The Cannon Street Digital Archive, which traces residents of Cannon Street back to the 1911 Census. The site is ran by local historian Alison Brown and we are hoping to recruit volunteers to develop the site further to include the streets that ran off Cannon Street.
Cannon Street Revisited isn’t just a one-off event and Hands on Middlesbrough hope to ensure the streets and their residents are not consigned to a historical footnote and eventually forgotten. We would be happy to enlist help from anyone who would like to share information, be interviewed or get involved in research. If you would like to help please join our facebook page Cannon Street Revisited or email email@example.com
My own personal connection with Cannon Street comes via my Grandad, George McNeil who was born in Severs Street in 1923, moved to Cannon Street but was bombed out during the war. I was always told he was blown out of his pyjama’s and everyone would laugh, but I now know this sense of humour was always used to tone down stories for a child’s ears. These events were in fact horrific and family members and neighbours seriously injured. When talking about the past it is always important to remember that despite the good times and strong community, times were hard and people struggled to make ends meet. (George McNeil: Centre)
That said, it can’t be denied that Cannon Street had…and still has a special place in people’s hearts and is an important part of our heritage. Perhaps councils can learn from successful communities of the past when “building communities” today and look at new ways of engaging people in the planning and development of the town.
How towns change and develop affect us all because we have both a financial and emotional investment in where we live. Think of all those small businesses lost. Over 60 businesses on one street.
This is perhaps why people still talk about Cannon Street today. It was a community that functioned successfully, despite the problems and hardships people had to face in their everyday lives. People worked together, shared and looked out for each other. I think we could all learn something from that. (Photograph courtesy of Derek Smith)
By S Pink