7 June 2010
An exhibition of photographs documenting changes in the Primrose Bank neighbourhood of Oldham has been well received by local residents after going on display at Gallery Oldham.
Complemented by historical records that document the rich industrial heritage of the locality, and by a vision of the exciting proposals to transform Primrose Bank into a twenty-first century place to live, the images formed a fascinating exhibition in the Community Gallery at the Union Street venue.
In 2009, local photographer Peter Walker, himself a former Primrose Bank resident, was jointly commissioned by the Council’s ”Gateways to Oldham” team and Oldham Rochdale Housing Market Renewal to create a photographic record of the physical environment, history and community of Primrose Bank.
Working with residents and community groups, Peter has recorded surprising images, that are both beautiful and powerful, and that bear witness to the social diversity and the ongoing physical transformation of this community.
Peter explained, “Living in Primrose Bank, I had been recording the changes before I began the commission. There are many images of how people have been affected by the changes. I was able to photograph my next-door neighbour’s house move and the boarding up of the property. The images tell a visual story of the changes as they took place.”
With a visual record, the images are of some interest now, but will be of much greater interest in the future. This is the value of documenting change rather than letting it pass by unnoticed.”
Peter had mixed feelings about moving out of Primrose Bank. Having lived there for nine years, getting involved in community groups helped to build positive relationships. “There is incredible diversity in the life of the neighbourhood. Taking the photographs, there are places you walk past every day and never notice, until you look and see what’s there.”
Oldham Council has secured almost £130 million in Government funding from the Private Finance Initiative, to construct new homes for social-rent on five sites across the Borough through the “Gateways to Oldham” project. It is anticipated that the Council will sign a contract with its preferred developer, Inspiral, later this year.
The most prominent of these sites is the Primrose Bank estate on Ashton Road. Primrose Bank also forms part of the Werneth Housing Market Renewal (HMR) Pathfinder area. Work on constructing 192 new homes on this site is expected to start later this year.
Peter added, “There is a good balance in the proposals for new housing. I like that it appreciates the green spaces and that existing trees are being preserved. It looks like it will be a very positive change for the area.”
Elaine McLean, Oldham Council's Executive Director for Economy, Places and Skills, said, "We are delighted to see this exhibition at Gallery Oldham. It is particularly pleasing that local residents were involved in creating many of the images on display."
"This provides a showcase about the industrial heritage of Primrose Bank whilst also celebrating the cultural diversity of the area and offering a compelling vision for the future. These images set in context the transformation that is planned for Primrose Bank and I am certain that local people will find this exhibition fascinating.”
Gallery Oldham is open seven days a week, Monday to Saturdays 10 – 5 pm and Sundays, 10 – 4 pm. Last admission is half an hour before closing time. Admission is free.