Do you have objects around your house that act as a portal to a place filled with memories and stories? Our participants certainly do! We had lots of fun sharing our old items and their associations during this session which we co-hosted with Sophie Woodward, Professor of Sociology at Manchester University. The event was supported by the ESRC Festival of Social Science, which is an annual, UK-wide, free celebration of the social sciences. 

Objects shared by local people as well as members of the group were displayed around the room as a way to explore a range of issues, including things like interview methods, memory work and building connection and community.  It was a great success, with lots of fabulous stories shared and several new connections sparked.

Read below to see snippets of what was recalled on the day, plus beautiful photographs of the objects taken by talented local photographer Rachel Bywater. The other pictures and recollections from the day will be used as part of future projects. One particular project we have planned is with Manchester University and the NCRM where we intend to create a toolkit to promote and highlight the use of objects when delivering story-telling activities with community groups. Watch this space for more news on that!


I remember going to the local clinic with my mother and younger brother when he was a baby.  He was born in 1955 when I was 8 and I was very interested in my visits to the clinics and seeing all the babies.  Items like this one were given out as part of the health and welfare service to encourage the improved health of babies and young children.  Because I was a quiet and well-behaved child (!) the nurses in the clinic would give me little tasks to do – rolling up bandages, making cotton wool balls etc.


This brought back many memories for me.  Especially about when I had my babies.  We were given Guinness in hospital and we were told it helped to give us iron.  Wow!  How times have changed!  I love the objects, it has stirred many memories. 

A white tin with lettering saying "Welfare Food Service: National Dried Milk" in dark blue lettering.  There are instructions written on the tin of how to make up the baby food.
National Dried Milk – Welfare Food Service

M Reid

This reminds me of buying my first, extremely cheap Walkman in the early 90s.  It lasted about as long as you would expect before chewing its first tape.  I took it back to the shop and added more pocket/ paper round money to it to upgrade to a slightly less bad one.  Repeat to fade.  Within about 4 years, I was the proud owner of an actually functioning long-lasting Sony Walkman.

A Panasonic Walkman for playing cassette tapes.


Peacock Feather

Feather so soft,
Extremely long,
Terrifyingly tufty,
How lovely it looks,
Easily touched,
Really tickly.          
A peacock feather laid on a white background

C Kenyon           

A posset. My Nanna had one and it’s long been my understanding that it is the best washing implement ever.  Purely using elbow grease and not too much of it, my Nanna always washed everything with that and a mangle.  I have tried to purchase one as an adult but to no avail! 


This was used on washdays for handwashing to make a froth with soap.  Used to grate the soap which came in a large block. It belonged to my mother. She also had a washing machine, a Hotpoint which she had to bale out.  We had a mangle too where things needed lying flat. When it was an electric one, the buttons sometimes got taken off.  Big things got washed in the summer and clothes were worn for longer in those days.  Blankets were washed in the summer. Washing day was always on a Monday and was a stressful day!  The meal that day was soup, made from the Sunday roast so we didn’t have to cook.

A photograph of a round metal washing implement with a wooden handle.  It looks a bit like a plunger for clearing a blocked drain!
Posset – washing implement


When my two sons were young boys in the 1980s, Miss Splendid came as a collectable small toy, free in a cereal packet.  She looks like she thinks she is above everyone else.  She is durable, more so than the others which we had.  She is the one that is left and now she is a family heirloom.

Miss Splendid's face, hands and legs are bright green (she has no body!). Her eyes are closed, her large round nose is stuck up in the air and she has a small round mouth.  Her hat and shoes are bright red.
Miss Splendid figure from Little Misses and Mr Men by Roger Hargreaves


This made me remember Sunday evenings.  My mum would go to church and I’d sit on my dad’s knee and we would listen to “Journey Into Space.” I loved looking at all the weird names on the radio dial.  My dad told me that Hilversum is in Germany.  I also saw the name of another place – I can’t remember now but I was so disappointed when it told me it was only near Birmingham!


We had a valve radio.  This was from as long as I can remember when there was just me and mum  My dad was often away working. Before my brother was born we didn’t have a TV.  They were expensive back in the late 60s early 70s.  I grew up on Radio 4 drama and real news!  Maybe my love for story/drama/ theatre has its origins in Bakelite Valve Radio. I remember ……. (can’t read word)  and not wanting to be away from my mum.


I remember seeing radios like this as a child.  My dad had one. We couldn’t touch it, it was his baby.  It had glass valve amps at the back.  It was in a radiogram.  He played records from HMV.  I remember tuning the radio and how my brother tuned it and you could hear voices – police messages!

A brown Bakelite radio.  There is a panel at the top showing the two radio bands with the stations marked on them along their length.  The round speaker is in the middle, covered with mesh.  The tuning handle is on the bottom left hand side and the on/off switch is on the right hand side.


I had something like this, in fact maybe it was this exact rhino in a blue plastic box. I had a lot of animal figures in there. I played with them by lining them in front of the ironing board.   I used to like patterns as a child.  The lion always went at the front like the Lion King.  They formed a procession out towards the garden.  I remember feeling pure enthusiasm and involvement.  I loved animals and dinosaurs and Rhinos are somewhere in between the two of these categories.

A side view of a grey plastic toy rhino, with its two prominent horns and large sticking up ears.
Toy Rhino    


This takes me way back to the 1980s and family games night which was a special night when all the family, young and old, would play.  It is one of the noisiest games I know.  I bought it in the 1980s.  This game was about siblings and parents letting their hair down.  We cried, laughed and told stories.  It was a strengthening of family values.  The bond was tight and joyous.

The five brightly coloured "whack attack" domes show all the heads of the characters.  There is a plastic timer and three brightly coloured plastic hammers in the foreground.
Whack Attack Game 

N A Marvi                

This looks good for decoration and to remind new generations about part of history.  I have never seen an object like this before.  I would like to buy it as I think it would stop my books from falling over!  It reminds me of British History and the middle of the second world war.  George VI was the Queen’s father.  I was born in 1945.  I remember the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.  I was 8 years old.  I saw it on Pathe News at the cinema because nobody had TV.  They showed it at the BP club.  My father worked for BP in Abadan.  I watched it with my friends.  One of them pushed me off the platform we were on in a play and I broke my left wrist!

A wooden date display calendar with a carved royal crest containing the letters GR above which is a crown.  There are carved wings above the display of the month and date, which can be changed by a dial on the back.

Anne Delargy          

It’s for carrying a boiled egg in its little cart.  My mam bought it for me when I was a little girl and I always had my breakfast egg in it.  When my brother’s first child was born, he gave it to him and then later his two younger children used it.  When he died, I took it back and I use it myself again now.  It reminds me of my childhood, my brother and his children.  It makes me think of my happy childhood days so I feel happy and also sad that my parents and my brother are dead.

The donkey egg cup is brightly painted.  The cart is round, bright yellow inside with green leaves on the outside.  The wheel is brown with pink spokes.  The donkey is white with black hooves and looks like it is smiling.
Donkey Egg Cup, with missing ears

Margaret K                  

I brought some old singles for people to look at in the carry case that was handy for taking them around to friends.  I remember buying plastic inserts to go in the middle if a record didn’t have one, but I didn’t remember why.  Talking to Jean, she explained that they were for records that had been on a jukebox.  I had forgotten!  They used to be stacked up on a central pole in the middle of a jukebox so they would drop down to play when it was their turn.  I used to buy all my records from the market.    

The red-checked singles case is open to show the records inside, all in paper sleeves.  The singles case is like a stiffened box with a clasp fastener.
Singles carry case with records 

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