A Birmingham bus route is the inspiration for a £226,300 project charting the history of migration in one of the city’s most multicultural areas.
Indian, Pakistani, Kurdish, Irish, African-Caribbean and Somali communities all live in the area surrounding the Stratford Road along which carries the Number 6 bus from the city centre to Solihull.
A Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £226,300 will enable the South Asian arts organisation Sampad to undertake an 18-month project researching the history of the communities that live along the Road between Sparkbrook and Hall Green.
‘My Route’ will start with a wide-ranging investigation covering how the various lifestyles, languages, religions, cuisines, economic activities and generations mesh together to create a vibrant, ethnically diverse city quarter.
Reyahn King, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands, said: “This wide-ranging project will get members of the local community involved in researching and understanding better their individual and collective heritages as well as presenting the fruits of their research in imaginative and engaging ways.”
Broadcaster and historian Michael Wood, the Heritage Lottery Fund’s community champion, said: “Unlikely as it may sound, the Number 6 bus route to Solihull goes down a road which has played – and continues to play – a great role in Midlands history.
“From the Mercians to our modern migrations, it’s a route which has carried people and languages, religions and ideas, music and food – not forgetting Birmingham’s original Balti.”
Volunteers, including young people, from among the various ethnic groups will be trained to interview residents to capture their stories about settling in the area, their customs and traditions.
Meanwhile, the University of Birmingham and young people from the Concord Youth Centre, Sparkbrook, will help to create an online interactive map detailing the mass of community heritage information gathered.
Piali Ray OBE, Director of Sampad said: “We are delighted to have secured the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the ‘My Route’ project, which will enable us to explore the changing history of the people, landscape and culture along Stratford Road, from the 1940s to the present day.”