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Wheelie great project showcases Newham's past

PUBLISHED: 13:03 29 January 2016 | UPDATED: 13:14 29 January 2016

Staff and Volunteers (left to right) Polly Rodgers, Hayley Sherwood, Joshua Adams, Holly Gilson, Kirsty Parsons and Paul Beard with Eastside Community Heritage's Museum on Wheels, a mobile project to provide an immersive experience into their and Newham's past

Staff and Volunteers (left to right) Polly Rodgers, Hayley Sherwood, Joshua Adams, Holly Gilson, Kirsty Parsons and Paul Beard with Eastside Community Heritage's Museum on Wheels, a mobile project to provide an immersive experience into their and Newham's past

Archant

The magical mystery tour is coming to take you away - not with a psychedelic bus but in the form of an unobtrusive wooden suitcase.

Eastside Community Heritage's Museum on Wheels, a mobile project to provide an immersive experience into their and Newham's pastEastside Community Heritage's Museum on Wheels, a mobile project to provide an immersive experience into their and Newham's past

Tucked away in the Museum on Wheels 2016 is a wealth of pictures, objects and memories that can transport you to another time in the borough’s rich history.

“It contains things like Tate & Lyle tins and mementos from the Olympics,” explained Eastside Community Heritage executive director Judith Garfield MBE, who has headed the mobile project.

Tate & Lyle provides instant links to the area: the famous brand has wafted its treacly wares through Plaistow and Silvertown since 1878, and still turns out a million tins of golden syrup a month.

But it’s not only industry and major sporting events that get a look in.

Importantly, it’s about people’s everyday experiences, and connecting to memories through touch, sound and exploration.

Unlike in most museums, where feeling artefacts is taboo, here residents have a free rein to

play with the objects as they

like.

“It’s a custom-made wooden case, a bit like a cupboard,” describes Judith, who commissioned a carpenter to make the object.

“It opens up like a vanity case and sits on a table with a white cloth. There’s a tablet so people can listen to old stories, they can pick up pictures and look at them.”

The collection is made up primarily of images from Eastside’s archive, but “some people emptied their attics for us,” she said.

The wheels of the case may reflect the in-flux nature of Newham, but its contents also encourage a dialogue with the past.

About four groups have booked in for a session so far, with the first starting on February 4.

It’s particularly suitable, Judith thinks, for community groups and old people’s homes. “Everybody is welcome to come and do a session with us,” she said. “It’s quite nostalgic.

The project was made possible by a £3,000 grant through the TIQ Community Fund – established by Lend Lease to support the local community around the International Quarter development at Stratford City.

The fund is managed by East End Community Foundation.

A project spokesman said the objects provided in a community setting would enable residents to “learn more about local history and make culture and heritage more accessible in the borough”.

For more details about Museum on Wheels, go to hidden-histories.org.uk or follow @EastsideCH on Twitter.

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