Finding out about the past

It may be obvious but we only know about the past because of the documents, photos and stories that people have left behind. Without this evidence, the past is a mystery.

I once worked with an inspirational Advisory Teacher who told me how she explained this concept of evidence to teachers on INSET days. As all the teachers arrived for the session, they were asked to jot down their impressions of the room – for example, whether it was warm or cold, bright or dark. Having collected all the notes together, the Advisory Teacher then threw away all but one of the notes. The surviving note was then read out as the definitive description of what the room was like. No one else’s opinion mattered.

This is what happens with history – it can be only the opinion of one or two people that goes forward into the future. What everyone else thought, felt or experienced is lost unless it’s recorded and preserved in some way. Traditionally, it’s the voice of kings, queens and the important/powerful that has survived to come down to us. Since the 1960s, it’s been increasingly recognised that it’s vital also to document people’s more everyday experiences.

This is what we’re hoping to do with Solihull Life In A Day on Tuesday 12th November. The more contributions we can get, the better the chance that our time capsule will be more broadly representative of people’s experience. Please encourage everyone you know who lives, works or studies in the Solihull borough, or who will be visiting on #soliday to share their day with us all.


Life In A Day

On 24th July 2010, people in 192 countries filmed their day. 4,500 hours of footage were put together by film-maker Ridley Scott into this 90-minute film capturing a snapshot of life on the planet.

If you fancy trying to capture your day in a video for Solihull Life in A Day on 12th November, please do! If you upload it to YouTube, please tag it with soliday, and we’ll create a playlist of your videos. It doesn’t have to be a full-length film like this one, even a minute or two would be great.  Just share with us the parts of your day that are most important to you.



“A mountain of chip butties…”

I love this story from someone who moved to Kingshurst in 1972.

Every Friday my friends and I piled all the kids into big old-fashioned prams and walked over to the new shopping centre at Chelmsley Wood. We’d do our grocery shopping and then buy a big bag of chips, a loaf of bread and a tub of margarine and walk down to the river by the police station. We’d take off the kids’ shoes and socks and let them paddle while we made a mountain of chip butties. We’d sit them all down with a chip butty and pass a big bottle of cheap fizzy pop around and sit on the river bank. Our kids loved it and thought they’d had a super day out!

Continue reading ““A mountain of chip butties…””

Tuesday 12th November 2013 is #soliday!

On Tuesday 12th November 2013, everyone living, working, studying or visiting any of the places that make up the Borough of Solihull is invited to share their day with each other and with future generations through social media, photos, videos, or written diaries.

The contributions will be archived by the borough’s Heritage & Local Studies Service to capture the everyday life of the borough in a single ordinary day, creating a fascinating time capsule to show what it was like to be alive in Solihull on this particular day.

In a similar way to Mass Observation’s one-day diaries we want you to tell us about your day on 12th November. You can tell us whatever seems appropriate to you.

We’ll put further details here over the next few weeks but, if you want any further information in the meantime or have any questions please post a comment here or get in touch with Tracey Williams at Solihull Central Library on 0121 704 6934 or by email.


Blog at

Up ↑