On Saturday 14 July, a group of us had the pleasure of being guided by Mellers Primary after-school club of 8 to 11 year olds, under the charge of artist Jo Wheeler. They led us through their neighbourhood, uncovering local histories of buildings and places, in an effort to explore themes of home, work, shopping and play. Clear blue, sunny skies with temperatures in excess of 25 degrees Celsius, was the perfect backdrop for an afternoon with the enthusiastic kids.
As the event started, the kids adorned themselves in their costumes for the excursion - aprons and caps that they’d decorated with metallic paints. They also had Foamcore signs displaying the word ‘home’ in the various languages they speak at home. After some investigation, I discovered the languages were Dutch, Arabic, Spanish, Urdu, Polish, French, Teluga and English - my migrant self delighted at all the cosmopolitanism.
They also had Foamcore signs displaying the word ‘home’ in the various languages they speak at home.
The little people first led us to a tower block, where they chanted in unison, “Here is home!” Turns out, this Norton Street, Woodlands Flats, was the site for Nottingham Home for Scattered Children - cue misty eyes from yours truly. These premises housed 80 children, who lived and went to school here, and either didn’t have family to live with, or their families were too poor to look after them.
Recalibrating the mood, the kids turned in a different direction, and pointed to a factory in the distance, chanting, “Here is work!” They elaborated how Barnett Confectioners, began making handmade sweets in Nottingham 120 years ago, and continue to make Bulls Eyes, Barley Sugar and Bonfire Toffee boiled sweets. They then gifted the audience some sugary treat samples.
We moved onto various other ‘play, work, shopping and play’ sites - all of which were thoroughly engaging. The kids’ passion and involvement was contagious, as it made me appreciate their neighbourhood, too.
At the end of the tour, we made our way to Primary, an artists’ studio which was described to me by a fellow tour explorer as, “an old school site, which has been converted into artists’ studios - a lovely concept of making do with what’s available.” At Primary, we indulged in the students’ artwork and super tasty refreshments, notably for me, Jamaican salt fish patties.
Walk This Way! was an afternoon well spent learning about the past and present of Radford from the neighbourhood children.