Chocolate Houses.

 

A youth-led film making project, telling the stories of a historic seaside estate.

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ABOUT CHOCOLATE HOUSES

The Chocolate Houses project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and sees a group of young people from the Bournville estate, Weston Super Mare, supported by boomsatsuma, work with Weston Museum. They worked to create a professional film documentary on the history of the Bournville estate and its residents from the origins of the estate in 1927 to the present day.

The documentary seeks to understand what the estate was like, and how it has changed, through historical research and the oral histories of the many senior residents. The film celebrates the people who live on the estate and was a chance for them to share their stories and memories. 

The film itself was researched, planned, filmed and edited by a group of young people aged 10-17 who live on and around the estate with the aim to develop their research, production management and technical skills. 

Pictures of the area in the 1930s show thriving local shops and a tight working class community. The area was full of canals carrying parts to the Bristol Aeroplane Factory nearby. The proximity of the factory meant the area was bombed intensively during the war and the stories of pop up shops being erected to look smart for the royal visit to inspect the bomb damage.

It is the stories of the people that the project was most interested in. The young people developing this project wanted to focus on the oral history supplied by residents. There are some residents who moved to the Bournville as children in the 1940s and this was probably the last chance to get their stories. They wanted to investigate the changes of a seaside housing estate through the stories of the residents from the earliest memories around 1933 to the present day. So that their voices, that otherwise wouldn't be heard, can be recorded.

Our partners Weston Museum believe this is a very important project. It is an area of the town that has been neglected in terms of recorded history and it continues to be neglected. boomsatsuma believe that this project can not only fill in a gap in understanding the growth of the town but it can also help to restore a pride in the place that comes from an understanding of the heritage. 

The project

boomsatsuma recruited the help of a young production team through Weston Youth Centre, focusing on the heritage of the Bournville. Working with Heritage Consultant, Tamsin Mosse, they practised their interview skills and worked through archive material to better understand the history of their local community. Meeting once a week, the team were able to develop their heritage skills and learn about their community by investigating primary and secondary resources.

 
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Supported by the Healthy Living Centre on the estate, one of the first things the Production Team did was host a small event in the library to meet people and share the research material collated at their library and the main library at the Town Hall. Offering refreshments to all members of the community, the Production Team took the time to speak to local people about their memories, recording them for further research. This offered participants an opportunity to come together and socialise, discussing their own stories from the past.

 
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Developing their research further, the Production Team, worked towards a bigger memories event that encouraged members of the elderly community to come together and share their stories and memories of the area. The event took place at St Andrew’s church hall on Sunday 3rd of December. The participants enjoyed refreshments, music of the period and a chance to discuss photos and memorabilia that they brought along. The young people were able to practise their interviewing skills on participants, recording their oral histories for the project.

 
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Once the bulk of the research was conducted, and the social, community events came to a close, the production process began. The team received training in camera skills, production planning, interviewing and the elements of being a production assistant. These skills were then put to good use during the interview process where the oral histories of some of the willing residents of the estate were filmed. 

THE EXHIBITION

Alongside the documentary production process, the team started to design and plan the exhibition that was hosted at Weston Museum for a month in July 2018. After some guidance and training from the education team at the museum, and much planning with our heritage consultant, the team helped to curate an exhibition that demonstrated their research and the shared stories and memories of the estate. The exhibition was launched in July with lots of the contributors attending. The exhibition included a timeline of history from the estate, anecdotes from the documentary played out in a ‘living room’ space, past images of the contributors, a washing lines of memories and a gumball machine that released memories from the community. Over 3000 people visited the exhibition. You can read more about the exhibition in our news section below.

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making the documentary

The filming took place over a series of two months in and around the Bournville estate with contributors giving up their time to let the professional production team, and our team of young people interview them. As well as assisting on the shoots, the production team of young people edited small teasers for social media, helped to design the print marketing around the project and contributed their ideas to overall edit of the documentary.

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The Screening

Once the documentary was finished, the Curzon Cinema in Clevedon hosted a premiere screening for the public. boomsatsuma arranged transport to and from the cinema and greeted everyone with an ice cream and a drink on arrival so that old friends and new could celebrate their stories and memories in the historic building. The young production team presented to the crowd of 150 people and received certificates and gifts as a sign of their training, hard work and commitment to the heritage project. BBC Radio Bristol were also there to talk to the young people involved and cover it for social media.

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The screening was a huge success with all contributors happy and stories and memories of the estate celebrated in style! Since the screening, the materials designed for the exhibition have been donated to the All for Healthy Living Centre Library on the Bournville estate. The materials such as childhood photographs, stories from audience members, Betty Webber’s ‘Merry Wives Club’ picture book and images of the original exhibition, will be displayed in the library to extend the legacy of the project and give the community ownership of the materials The HLC library and the main Weston super Mare library now have copies of the DVD to lend to the general public and Weston Museum are interested in hosting another screening on their site.

WATCH THE DOCUMENTARY

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to The Heritage Lottery Fund who made the project happen, a huge thanks to Our Way Our Say youth project, Weston Museum and the HLC on the estate and to all of the people that contributed their stories. Congratulations to the young people involved in the project!

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