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3rd Aug, 2021

Exhibition offers chance for a trip into the past

Rob George 13th Jun, 2021

A NEW exhibition at Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum will chronicle the history of the changing face of Worcester and its residents through photographs

Worcester Life Stories shines a light on the history of Worcester through the words of the city’s residents and a vast array of photographs taken over the last 70 years, which have captured snapshots of the streetscapes of Worcester and how they have changed.

It opened yesterday (Saturday) at Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum and run until February 2022.

From 1950s shop fronts and forgotten landmarks, to communities which were migrated as the city developed, evocative images in the exhibition unlock memories of days gone by.

The images were taken by staff of Worcester City Council, including health inspectors, archaeologists, conservation officers and planners to inform their day-to-day work, capturing building use, living conditions and heritage. They tell stories of lost industries, of hardship and poverty followed by regeneration and redevelopment, some of which still divides opinion today.

Other images capture a more domestic view, especially those images taken by Chief Public Health Inspector Tom Marsden. It was Marsden’s role to ensure housing conformed to the 1957 Housing Act which called for houses to be fit for human habitation and led to around 3,500 properties in Worcester being condemned as unsanitary and unsafe.

His incredible photographs capture the conditions many families experienced after a half-century of neglect, economic depression and two world wars.

Rising damp, rat-infested courtyards and cramped, airless spaces were just some of the scenes captured as he surveyed the city. What followed was the mass demolition of many areas, including the tenement houses of the Blockhouse, Tybridge Street, The Moors, and Dolday.

David Nash, social history curator with Museums Worcestershire, said: “This exhibition is a fascinating window into the past, inviting residents of the city we live in now to see how it has been shaped and changed over the past 70 years.

“Our cities are constantly evolving beneath our feet and it’s enthralling to see how past generations lived and to see how the streets we are so familiar with have altered through time.”

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