The Heritage and Cultural Centre has begun a new and exciting project based on farming in Maghera and the surrounding districts during the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s. This area has been predominantly agricultural for generations with a strong tradition of small family farms, which were generally less than thirty acres in size.
The links between the town and the countryside were very strong during those years. Shopping was much more local and the farmers did the majority of their business in Maghera through the local merchants. In addition, Maghera had a thriving weekly market drawing in people from a wide radius outside the town.
These were the years, the 1940s to the 1960s, that saw huge changes in farming methods. The tractor took over from the horse as the mainstay of the farm, and customs, skills and techniques going back hundreds of years were set aside for the new practices based on increasing mechanisation.
We set up this project in the Centre to capture the memories and experiences of farmers who lived and worked through this period of change. To put a structure on the whole project, six farmers have volunteered to take part and will work with the Centre to record and document their farms and describe in detail the routines and practices in the mid-twentieth century.
However, to round out the project and tie the farmers in with all the other aspects of life at the time we are hoping to involve a much wider range of people sharing their stories. If you have any memories of Maghera during those years – perhaps you too had a farm or ‘gathered’ spuds’ as a child or worked in the town during those busy years we would love to hear from you.
We are gathering the information in many different ways. Informal interviews can be arranged and recorded if that is how you would like to contribute your memories. Alternatively, there is a facility on the website where you can write your story or, you might be happier with the tried and tested method of pen and paper. We welcome everybody who wishes to take part in this undertaking. We feel that not only will this project be a useful addition to the history and heritage of the town and district, but also it will strengthen the local community and increase pride in our heritage.
The project will run until December 2016. From January 2017 to April 2017 the material gathered will be edited and assembled to form an exhibition in the Heritage and Cultural Centre This exhibition will include artefacts from the period and will start with an open-day demonstrating traditional farming skills, e.g. ploughing with horses and early tractors, butter-making, scutching etc. It is hoped that the local schools will become involved as well as this will be a great opportunity to reach the next generation and show them the social and practical heritage of their grandparents.
How to take part
You can share your story on line and tell us of your experiences.
Alternatively call the Heritage and Cultural Centre at 028 79549835 and arrange to call in for a chat or to organise a recording. You can also write down your memories and send them to us at: Maghera Heritage & Cultural Centre, 17 Coleraine Road, Maghera. BT56 5BN
We look forward to hearing from you all and will keep you updated on progress.