Smithills Estate was purchased from Bolton Council in two stages by the Woodland Trust, in 2015 and 2017. The council had owned the estate since 1938 and for many years local people and those visiting the area used it recreationally. Its history has been a combination of industry and farming. Vaccaries existed from the Middle Ages, and there are still tenant farmers on the land today. Coal mining, tile and brick works, and stone quarrying all played their parts in industry during the Industrial Revolution.
The oral history project gathered stories and memories from many of the people connected to the site, from those whose health and wellbeing have been helped by spending time on the estate, to those involved in tree planting and farming.
My part in the project was to liaise with the project lead, and to assist, advise and guide a group of volunteers who carried out the interviews. I hosted workshops, provided training and interview guidance, administered the project paperwork, and processed interviews.
We used online conferencing for our meetings and some interviews, others were carried out by the volunteers in person.