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The past is the future

New online archive inspired by Terence Davies film

Published on November 1st 2010.


The past is the future

ALL together now....”Can it be that it was all so simple then....or has time rewritten every line...and if we had the chance... (that's enough, ed).”

One of the highest profile commissions of Capital of Culture year has created a new legacy, but somewhat paradoxically, it's all to do with Liverpool Past.

Hope Street-based film company Hurricane launch a new reminiscence website today, People’s Stories: Liverpool Lives, which aims to chart the city’s social history. A bit like those “Looking Back” pictures in the local papers, but enriched and updated by people's own dusty snaps and stories. There's archive gold at the back of the city's cupboards and lofts, and, the resoning goes, here's the chance to upload and preserve it digitally forever, and for the world to see it.

The site, which has been funded by the Heritage Lottery, was created after many Liverpudlians responded to Terence Davies’ 2008 film, Of Time And The City, a documentary based eulogy to his home city and made by Hurricaine in 2008.

Costigan's grocers, Old Swan tram sheds, sooty buildings, sooty people, even the Save Eric's demo, now 30 years old. It's a way-we-were jackpot.

Jesting aside, there is actually a big appetite for this largely untapped area of city life. The Secrets of Smithdown Road archive set up by National Museums Liverpool has been phenomenally successful. And, judging by an ICM poll of 2,000 people, commissioned by Hurricaine, 70 per cent of those who had an opinion, said they want to tell their family histories and 54 per cent say they want to help tell the stories of their home town.

Hurricane Films Director Sol Papadopoulos said: “We had Liverpudlians from all over the world wanting to tell their story, inspired by the way Terence had told his. So we’ve created a kind of archival facebook where people can upload and share stories, pictures and films. Already we have collected some fantastic stories. And our poll shows that people are keen to get involved at all levels. Many don’t know how, so we’re really hoping People’s Stories will change that, certainly in Liverpool.”

Terence Davies, who wrote Of Time And The City, (read our interview here)said: “The film I made with Hurricane seems to have pricked peoples’ own memories and I never thought that would happen. I’m astounded that it’s had this kind of response and that this project has been borne of it.”

To help launch the project, Terence Davies and several Liverpool actors have contributed to the site with their own memories of Liverpool. These include, Jonathan Pryce, Alexei Sayle, Joe McGann and his mother, John McArdle and Simon O’Brien.

Want to put in your own two-penneth? Visit www.peoples-stories.com.

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