On Sunday 18th September 2011 Oldham Theatre Workshop delivered the first ever performance of an outdoor interactive theatre production which had been specially commissioned to mark 200 years of the Huddersfield Canal. The piece was a major success and engaged with well over 200 people on the day.
The work was produced and performed by the highly regarded Oldham Theatre Workshop (OTW) and was the result of a year long collaboration between OTW and the Canal Society.
The drama was performed by a mixture of professional actors, students of the Theatre Workshop and local school children. The children were auditioned at a “summer school”, which was also HLF funded, held in Diggle Village School and lead by the Theatre Workshop. In the course of the summer school the children helped with the making of props and costumes whilst learning about the history of the Canal.
The inaugural performances of the drama, which brought to life some of the characters who have influenced, and been influenced by, the canal during its 200 year history, took place on Sunday September 18th in the village of Diggle, close to the entrance to the Standedge Tunnel.
The performances were be the centrepiece of a weekend of celebrations which were planned by the Society and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Commenting on the award Mr Neville Kenyon, Chairman of the Canal Society, expressed his delight at the news that the Society is to receive the award. He said, “This is a deserved recognition of the work of our Society in disseminating knowledge and appreciation of the Canal’s history and heritage to local people and visitors alike”.
Explaining the importance of the award HLF, Sara Hilton, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund North West, said, “We at HLF are really pleased to be able to support these celebrations marking the bicentenary of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. Our industrial heritage is at the heart of understanding the history of the North West. It is wonderful that these young people are being given the chance to explore and share these stories, which will help ensure that they will be preserved for future generations.”