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Once Upon A Time

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​The Once Upon a Time (OUAT) project began with the union of two groups: the Manchester Communication Academy and the Irk Valley Tenants and Residents group both based in Collyhurst, North Manchester.


The Irk Valley Tenants And Residents Association were working closely with Saviour Primary School, Collyhurst, to produce a small booklet about the history of the area with a focus on the famous Tinker Gardens that were a prominent feature of the area in Victorian times. This small project then fell into the hands of a volunteer from North Manchester Regeneration who researched the area further and produced a history pamphlet which expanded on what the primary school children had started.


All the while, in a Portacabin on the pile of rubble that was to become the Manchester Communication Academy, Patsy Hodson the then Vice Principal designate of the new academy was working on a Heritage Lottery bid that would officially begin the funding of the Once Upon a Time project.


Eventually these two groups met and formed a ten strong group: The Once Upon a Time steering group.  This group of people would then meet every second Monday of the month, and still do to this day.


Work began in earnest to gather the rich history of this area. Using mp3 recorders donated by the City Learning Centre, the steering group met to sit and talk about their memories of the area. This stage lasted for 3 weeks as more and more people came forward to be part of the project. By the end there was over 50 hours of recorded material, every second of which was worth keeping.


The project gained momentum and appeared at and hosted a number of events in the following weeks. The Queens Park ‘Party in the Park’ was hosted by OUAT for local families of the area to raise awareness about the park and to continue gathering memories. It was here that a local film company produced a Big Brother diary room style DVD of people’s thoughts about the area and their favourite memories. There was also the Collyhurst Fun Day where the group organised the Key 103 bus to come down to Saviour Church as part of the event and invite children onto the bus to interview older adults about their memories of the area, a radio style broadcast was produced from this.

"Our Collyhurst/Miles Platting roots are especially important to us because of the very close knit community we all grew up in. Please keep up the good work, Amanda"

Lillian Barlow

"What a wonderful afternoon I had at your event last month. I had travelled all the way from Macclesfield to attend and I wasn't disappointed. After almost 60 years you have managed to put me back in touch with the two brothers who lived next door to me on Collyhurst Road in the 1960s-amazing. I can't thank you enough

"Thank you for publishing the serialisation of my memoirs detailing my National service years in Korea & The Suez emergency crisis  in your last three editions of Once Upon a Time. These will be kept and treasured by my family and future generations"

Derek Firth

Ann Bowyer Selby (nee Sidwell)

Fast forward to 2017, and the Once Upon a Time group has over 500 members.  Members are invited to the OUAT ‘drop in’ session every Monday at Manchester Communication Academy, where they reminisce with other group members and peruse some of the many materials held in the group’s archive.


The group produce a magazine three times per year, which features contributions from the group’s archives and members which is sent to all members as part of their annual subscription and they also have three ‘get togethers’ per year at Manchester Communication Academy, where all members are invited for a delicious meal and entertainment.  Every year the group go on a number of trips to places of interest such as the National Memorial Arboretum and the Fusiliers Museum.  More information about our previous trips can be found in the ‘past events’ tab.


For details of the benefits of becoming a Once Upon a Time member and how to join, please click here

Become a Member

Membership of the group costs £10 for the year.  Members and non members can access the weekly drop in sessions every Monday from 10am until 12noon at Manchester Communication Academy. Members get three editions of the Once Upon a Time magazine delivered to your home, three get togethers per year at the Academy, and subsidised access to trips and events throughout the year.

OUAT Membership Form 

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