Zion 100: Helping A Community Retrieve It's History

Submitting Institution

Manchester Metropolitan University

Unit of Assessment


Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration
Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies

Download original


Summary of the impact

`Zion 100' was a pioneering research project engaging the people of Hulme in the study of their own history as part of a wider effort to regenerate an inner city area of Manchester. It directly engaged over 2000 people with nearly 300 people participating in activities related to researching local history. Participants developed transferable skills and built self-esteem whilst preserving the heritage of their community. Historical material was uncovered by local residents and used to produce an exhibition and a series of historical enactments that brought over 1800 local people together. Zion 100 led to significant historical, cultural and social impacts that have helped to build a sense of increased community cohesion and intergenerational understanding. Publically accessible archive material has been produced along with educational resources for local schools.

Underpinning research

This case study exemplifies an established tradition of researching Manchester's local and community history within the Manchester Centre for Regional History at MMU (http://www.hssr.mmu.ac.uk/mcrh/) The key researchers involved were Terry Wyke and Alan Kidd. Wyke is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of History at MMU. His scholarship was recognised in by the award of an OBE in 2009 for services to local history in Manchester. Kidd was a senior lecturer and then Professor of History (now Emeritus). Underpinning research reaches back to 1986 when Wyke and Kidd were co-founders of the Manchester Region History Review, a journal that makes local and community history of a high scholarly standard accessible to a wider reading public. Manchester Region History Review appeals to different social constituencies such as local history groups, museums and art galleries often highlighting archives that are on the margins of academic studies. The success of the Review then led to the establishment of the Manchester Centre for Regional History (1998), one of the leading centres for regional and local history in the UK. Research foci included the development of working-class communities and religion manifested in projects such as a special issue of the Review on Ancoats, the world's first working-class suburb, which was the first serious scholarly examination of this area [1]. Other initiatives took the form of producing bibliographical reviews and guides to select historical sources such as the theatre and music hall in Manchester [2], and a history of Manchester Free Trade Hall [3]. A collection of essays on `The Church in Cottonopolis', edited by Ford, Powell and Wyke [4], examined the role and impact of churches in working-class communities over the last 200 years. In 2007 this expertise was applied to a study of The Cotton Church which was based on the history of a single influential church in the Ancoats district of Manchester. The Cotton Church was recognised as an innovative attempt to engage a readership beyond the Academy in a critical reading and analysis of the extant records relating to both the history of the church and the wider community it served [5].

The interests and knowledge developed in these projects led to further work on under researched working-class districts of Manchester including Hulme. The research began with an exhibition containing previously unseen photographs curated and hosted at the Zion Arts Centre, a significant public building in the centre of Hulme. The exhibition later transferred to Manchester Central Library (`Lost Hulme' 2010). The public interest that the exhibition generated crystallised in the development of a wider project based around the centenary of a chapel, now used as an arts centre in Hulme. This attracted considerable community interest and the loan of documentary material relating to the building and wider community that was in private hands. Using this material, and the official archives of the Church, and employing different methodologies of urban and local history, Wyke and Sharon Forrest produced a study revealing the diverse and changing roles of the Congregational Church among an increasingly working-class population from the early nineteenth century onwards. The research helped to engage present-day residents in the history of the building and helped to explain why the building itself had survived in a district that had undergone three major waves of redevelopment since 1900 [6].

References to the research

[1]. `Ancoats', Manchester Region History Review , vol. 7 (1993) edited A. Kidd and T. Wyke. (Available on request from MMU.)

[2]. Wyke, T. and N. Rudyard (1994), Manchester Theatres (Bibliography of North West England) ISBN: 0-947969-18-7

[3]. Wyke, T. (1996) A Hall for all Seasons: A History of the Free Trade Hall (Manchester: Charles Halle Society). ISBN: 978-0952800309

[4]. Ford, C., M. Powell and T. Wyke, (eds), (1997) The Church in Cottonopolis: Essays to Mark the 150th Anniversary of the Diocese of Manchester, (Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society). ISBN: 9780900942082

[5]. Edge, C. and T. Wyke, (2007) The Cotton Church: A History of St. Peter's, Ancoats (Heritage Works Buildings Preservation Trust). ISBN: 9780955609411

[6]. Forrest, S. and T. Wyke, (2011) Zion 100: A History of a Building in Hulme (Zion Art Centre). (Available on request from MMU)

Indicators of Research Quality

Wyke was commissioned to write The Cotton Church by the Heritage Works Buildings Preservation Trust and production of the publication was funded by them using grants received from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Wyke was awarded an OBE for services to local history in Manchester in 2009.

Details of the impact

From October 2010 to December 2011 Wyke collaborated with the Zion Arts Centre on a research project designed to celebrate the centenary of the former chapel, which is now the permanent home of the Centre. The research was supported by a grant of £49,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and won the inaugural Manchester Community History Award at the Manchester Histories Festival in 2012 [A]. Due to his widely recognised expertise as a local historian, and his role as curator of the exhibition of Hulme photographs referenced in Section 2 [B], the Director of the Zion Centre invited Wyke to act as historian-in-residence for this project, which would explain the history of the building to local residents. Wyke's findings inspired and underpinned a yearlong programme of activities.. Wyke's work was supported by his colleague Pat Ayers, Senior Lecturer in History at MMU, who delivered oral history training to a group of 12 `young leaders' from the Zion Arts Centre (a group of 10-25-olds who worked for 18 months with Zion 100 staff to develop leadership skills) and by three MMU undergraduate students (Forrest, Hartley and Walker). Other collaborators included: the Hulme History Society, four local schools, MMU's North West Film Archive (NWFA) and Manchester City Council, which provided funding and publicity support.

The primary objective was to increase community cohesion by involving local people in research processes in an effort to improve their understanding of, and cultivate their interest in the conservation of the history of their community. Rather than being passive observers, local residents were encouraged to become active participants in the research, conservation and reproduction of the history. To this end a variety of activities were run over the course of the year: in-depth oral history training equipped young people to collect and capture oral histories from older members of their local community, supplemented by additional material brought in by local people on `archive days' or posted to a dedicated website. A special effort was made to involve young people to promote intergenerational understanding. Six workshops were delivered at local primary and secondary schools (Rolls Crescent, St Wilfred's and Trinity) along with a series of workshops for young people held during the summer holidays. Altogether 290 people participated in these various activities and six box files and two storage boxes of archive material were gathered. The material will be stored in Manchester Central Records Office along with a bibliographical catalogue of sources compiled by Wyke [D]. Another objective was to share the collected material in a manner that would serve to engage the local community even further and intensify their participation. For this purpose, the historical evidence gathered from the local community was combined with additional research done by Wyke himself to inform two key activities: the first one was an exhibition, curated by Wyke, which ran from October to December 2010, displaying diaries and other documents, as well as artefacts created by the community [E]. These activities were supplemented by a series of amateur historical re-enactments, each relating to a different decade of the building's history. There were nine separate monthly events, including dance events, a 1940s street party and a film night [F]. The final celebration included a theatrical re-enactment of key moments in the history of the building, and involved over 100 participants and 300 audience members [G, H]. Over the course of a year, some 368 people actively participated in events. Audience numbers totalled 1814 [D]. Therefore the research successfully engaged over 2000 local residents, bringing together groups and individuals in a variety of activities that encouraged collaborative endeavour and promoted shared understandings of the history of their community. The Head of Regeneration at Manchester's City South Housing Trust, a large employer in the Hulme area, says that, "Zion 100 was very effective locally, involving people from a range of backgrounds and giving them a sense of ownership and indeed increased pride in their community [I]."

A variety of secondary impacts have also been achieved. There is the documentary conservation of the history of the building itself in the form of the Zion 100 booklet. 2000 copies were printed and every attendee of the final re-enactment received a copy. Copies have been provided to all local libraries and the text continues to be used in educational workshops that the Zion provides for local schools and arts-based community groups [D]. The book received wider civic attention across the city of Manchester. Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council commented that "the book is a fitting marker to this important anniversary, which again signifies not only the re-birth of Hulme as a successful mixed-used neighbourhood but also the role Hulme now plays as a contributor to the overall success of Manchester. I am pleased to note that this centenary history is produced in association with staff at Manchester Metropolitan University. It is good to see such partnerships already blooming"'[C]. Other impacts include the development of personal skills amongst participants, including research skills, oral history techniques, publishing and curation. Young people involved in workshops also reported improved self-esteem, confidence and communication skills [D]. Other related projects and partnerships have spawned from Zion 100, including a Postcards project, a series of ballroom dancing classes in 2012 and STUN's (Sustained Theatre Up North) Say It Loud programme [J]. Zion 100 was also of significant benefit to the Zion Arts Centre itself. As the Director of the Centre states, "It increased our profile quite substantially...The audience and participation targets which we set at the start of the project felt like quite a challenge, so to have exceeded them by almost doubling audience members for the year is evidence of how beneficial the project was for increasing awareness of our organisation, the work we do in general and the history of the building" [K]. There continues to be a legacy for the Centre, with members of the community still contacting it to find out information about the history of the building or the area and to leave archive material for the Centre's archival collection. The Hulme History Society can also report significant impacts from the project which helped them to broaden their appeal [L]

The `Lost Hulme' photographic exhibition and the historical re-enactments were both reported in the Manchester Evening News (7/12/10 and 8/10/11). The re-enactments were reported on the BBC's News website [M].

Sources to corroborate the impact

[A] Evidence of MMU's involvement in the Manchester Histories Festival 2012.
http://www.manchesterhistoriesfestival.org.uk/media/mhf2012/MHF-Evaluation-Report-FINAL.pdf including an MMU story on winning the History Festival's Community History Award: http://www.staff.mmu.ac.uk/manmetlife/news/view/award-for-city-history-project

[B] '"Lost Hulme"' moves to landmark venue' MMU News 12th October 2010. http://www.mmu.ac.uk/news/news-items/1234/ corroborating impact of photographic exhibition.

[C] Forward from Zion 100 book from Leader of Manchester City Council evidencing impact of Zion 100 on regeneration of the local area.

[D]. Heritage Lottery Fund, `Zion 100: Evaluation Report '. Available on request from MMU.

[E]. Documents and diaries archived at Zion Arts Centre. Available on request.

[F]. `Dances, Music, Mohicans and Memories: 100 Years of the Zion Arts Centre' (Programme of events, January to October 2011), on file at MMU.

[G]. `Pleasant Sunday Afternoon Society: An Era-Hopping Theatrical Adventure Reimagining the Last Century of Hulme in a Single Afternoon', Sunday 9th of October 2011, Zion Arts centre (Programme, on file at MMU)

[H]. Evidence of how Zion 100 has been embedded into the Zion Arts Centre's everyday cultural practice http://www.z-arts.org/about-us/our-history/

[I]. Email correspondence on file from the Head of Regeneration, Manchester City South Housing Trust corroborating impacts on wider community cohesion and civic pride.

[J]. Evidence of Zion Arts say it loud programme. http://www.z-arts.org/sayitloud/

[K] Written correspondence from CEO, Zion Arts Centre, 19th April 2013, on file corroborating impacts of Zion 100 on the Arts Centre

[L] Contact details for member of Hulme History Society uploaded into the system.

[M] Manchester Evening News 7th December 2012
(http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/in-pictures-archiving-hulmes-past-904521) and 8th October 2012; BBC News Website, 9th October 2011