Postgraduate Research Student at the University of Liverpool, Heritage Development Officer @ListerStepsHub, Ordinary Member of Council @SPMA, Assistant Leader at the Mersey and Dee YAC branch, cat lady, book enthusiast, grey lover......interested in: workers housing, oral history, place attachment, historic building conservation.........

The Young Archaeologists’ Club: Archaeologists of the Future

This Day of Archaeology found me multi-tasking as many archaeologists do. The bulk of my day was spent with the Mersey and Dee Young Archaeologists’ Club, on my day off from the History of Place project with some PhD reading and Society For Post-Medieval Archaeology Treasurer tasks in the evening-the life of an archaeologist is varied, exciting and never stops!

The image shows a sign that reads 'Galkoff's and the Secret Life of Pembroke Place: Stories from a fascinating Liverpool community'

Galkoff’s and the Secret Life of Pembroke Place: Stories from a fascinating Liverpool community

I joined the Mersey and Dee Young Archaeologists Club at their ‘summer school’ for a day working on the joint Museum of Liverpool/Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine project ‘Galkoffs and the secret life of Pembroke Place’ in a session run by Placed

The Museum of Liverpool and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine are working together to preserve, record and display the heritage of two important buildings on Pembroke Place, Liverpool-the decorative tiles of P Galkoff butcher shop which opened in 1908 (although the tiles were added later in 1933) and one of the three last remaining examples of courtyard housing in Liverpool. Courtyard housing in Liverpool is of particular interest to me as it forms one of my PhD case studies. The team involved in delivering the project have planned a full schedule of engagement activities to enable the public to participate.

A handwritten list of reasons why we should save old buildings;They can show us how people used to live,

The YAC’s debated why we should save historic buildings or why we should demolish

Placed (Place-Education) deliver hands-on, creative activities to excite, empower and engage the public, in particular young people, about the built environment. The workshop they delivered involved a number of activities designed to inspire the young people to consider potential new uses for the buildings on Pembroke Place. We started the day debating the reasons why we might want to reuse a historic building or why we might want to demolish. We then looked at maps of the local area to consider who might be future users of the buildings and other environmental factors such as access, roads and the physical space available.

A young boy stands looking at a model of two rooms

A member with one of the models showing potential reuse

We investigated Pembroke Place by looking at historic maps and photographs, who lived and worked in the buildings previously and what is significant about the heritage of the buildings. We worked in teams to repurpose the buildings using design images for inspiration and then we built models showcasing our designs. The teams created models of a ‘tropical’ frozen yoghurt shop (linking with the school by providing healthy ‘tropical’ snacks), a community library/coffee shop that sold hot chocolate and a public indoor ‘zoo’ to showcase some of the worlds most poisonous creatures.

a number of young people stand gathered around a table on which a model of a building stands

The YAC teams all presented their visions of reuse

We had so much fun using the historic buildings as a template for our creative ideas for the future. None of the young people wanted to demolish the buildings-all wanted to creatively redesign them to be reused.

Working with young people to help them to participate in archaeology is important to me. Currently I’m working for Accentuate on the History of Place project. A major part of the History of Place project is to engage young people, particularly young people who identify as Deaf or disabled, in their heritage. The project is researching 8 sites of disability in England, spanning 800 years.

A young boy is helped by a teacher to hold a windmill toy

A student at the Royal School for the Blind explores a hand held windmill as part of our ‘tunnels and seaside visits’ sensory story

In Liverpool, where I’m based, we are researching the Royal School for the Blind-the first of its kind in Britain (after Paris) and the oldest in continuous existence. Established in 1791 by a group of men, three of which were themselves blind, the school aimed to provide safe residence and training in the mechanical arts to blind men, women and children. Through our research we have uncovered some previously unseen objects and stories and are working to create a fully accessible exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool in January 2018. We have also been working with young people to create a sensory story, a mobile phone game and film about the history of the school.

A group of students are sat in a circle telling stories. One student holds a suitcase full of objects to help inspire a story.

Students from St Vincent’s School in Liverpool at a games workshop

I mentioned earlier some additional activities I did on Day of Archaeology. I’m involved with the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology as Treasurer and I did some general tasks such as checking our bank balance, updating records and checking e-mails. To complete my Day of Archaeology I did some reading towards my PhD. I’m in my final year (in real time although i’m a part time student) at the University of Liverpool investigating how a combined approach of archaeology and oral history can enhance our understanding of working class housing from 1790-1970. I find researching incredibly rewarding and as much as I’m excited to submit my thesis i’m also sad that my PhD experience is almost over. I am incredibly lucky to be working with so many brilliant people and on so many different themes. The final picture shows me at Pembroke Place with YAC in the background surveying where one of the two rows of courtyard housing stood.

are members of the Young Archaeologists Club carrying out geophysical surveying at Pembroke Place.

Here I am at Pembroke Place

History of Place

In 2016 I write my Day of Archaeology contribution as Project Coordinator for the History of Place project based in Liverpool.

The image depicts the front elevation of the school building which was originally on Commutation Row before being moved to London Road. Reproduced with thanks to the Royal School for the Blind, Wavertree

The image depicts the front elevation of the school building which was originally on Commutation Row before being moved to London Road. Reproduced with thanks to the Royal School for the Blind, Wavertree

History of Place is a disability heritage project delivered by Accentuate.  With Heritage Lottery Fund support History of Place will highlight eight sites of historic importance, across England, chosen to reflect early provision for disabled people through to the first purpose built architecture.  The richly diverse, experiential stories generated by those who inhabited or designed these buildings, will provide new insights into their own lives and the prevailing social attitudes and institutional processes which controlled them. There will be a range of local hands on participatory activities, a national touring exhibition and a strand engaging young deaf and disabled people using digital game making workshops and filmmaking.  In Liverpool we are researching the history of the Royal School for the Blind, formally the Liverpool School for the Indigent Blind, founded in 1791 (see image).

I started to work on the History of Place project in February 2016.  As I’m some distance from my organisations office in Folkestone a local organisation, DaDaFest.  We are working with other local partners including the Museum of Liverpool, the Royal School for the Blind plus local organizations such as Mencap Liverpool and the Young Archaeologists’ Club.

Upcoming plans in Liverpool include creative workshops with students at the Royal School for the Blind and the Young Archaeologists’ Club, research with the Volunteer Research and Archive Group, Oral History Training for volunteers and representatives from local heritage organizations and public events to mark Disability History Month.

Each day for me is different!  Here is what I did today……..

I started my day with a coffee (obviously!) and replied to my e-mails.  I completed my mind map which sits above my desk and reminds me what I need to do and when and then confirmed dates and room bookings for upcoming activities.  I read disability related news and shared some articles with the volunteer group in Liverpool.  We have a hardworking a dedicated group of volunteers all focused on developing content for a digital trail which will be available for Disability History Month at the Museum of Liverpool.  I took part in filming with DaDaFest where I was interviewed for their ‘five minutes with’ segment-it was hard to come up with a ‘fun fact’ about myself but after opening it up to Facebook I found out that I’m a cat person and I love old things!  Much of my job involves meeting with interesting people, sharing ideas, inspiring each other, collaborating and planning………and eating cake!  While I sometimes miss site based archaeology (both commercial and community), especially on sunny days, I enjoy engaging people in archaeology, history and heritage and sharing my passion for the past.  I enjoy desk based research, uncovering ‘hidden’ documents in archives and identifying ways to share the research with others.  I enjoy planning activities and events that will help to share the history of disability with a mainstream audience and I’m proud to be part of such an awesome project.

Please get in touch with any questions or comments and consider joining our mailing list to receive updates and newsletters-  We also have a Twitter account @H_O_P so please give us a follow!

Accentuate ( are a national programme which creates groundbreaking projects to support and promote the talents of deaf and disabled people in the cultural sector, who are a Screen South programme.

Screen South ( a not for profit Creative Development company operating in the wider creative and cultural community. They deliver and lead innovative projects across screen based media and the wider heritage, cultural and creative industries.

DaDaFest ( is a cutting edge Disability and Deaf Arts Agency, working not only from its base in Liverpool, but across the North West, Nationally and Internationally.  If you’re around Liverpool from 19th November 2016 then be sure to check out some of the amazing events DaDaFest are hosting as part of their festival ‘Skin Deep’.


The image shows a student with a collection of baskets and other wares that were created by students from the Royal School for the Blind. Copyright John Breen, in the Collection of National Museums Liverpool MMM.2003.115

The image shows a student with a collection of baskets and other wares that were created by students from the Royal School for the Blind. Copyright John Breen, in the Collection of National Museums Liverpool MMM.2003.115

Lister Steps Carnegie Community Hub

Day of Archaeology 2014 finds me working as a Heritage Development Officer for Lister Steps in Tuebrook, Liverpool.

Lister Steps have secured initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to regenerate the Grade II listed West Derby Library on Lister Drive, Tuebrook.
West Derby Library was established with funding from an Andrew Carnegie (Philanthropist and Industrialist) grant, and opened in 1905. The library is a one-storey brick built structure with stone dressings, a slate roof and an octagonal turret and was designed by Thomas Shelmerdine. The library originally contained a lending library and a number of reading rooms. Sadly, following health and safety concerns, the library closed in 2006 and has remained vacant since. This period of un-occupation has resulted in the library being subject to theft, vandalism and neglect. Items stolen from the library include lead flashings, the glazing to roof lights and feature ridge tiles. There has been substantial rainwater ingress which has severely damaged the timber structure and internal decorative plasterwork and joinery and dry rot is common throughout the building.
The ‘Lister Steps Carnegie Community Hub’ project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is currently in its development stage, however once completed Lister Steps aim to relocate their existing childcare services into the building. The regenerated building will also serve as a centre for community engagement, a ‘hub’ offering refreshments, activities and training opportunities for the local community and visitors.
The project will shortly begin a period of consultation with stakeholders and members of the community. The project aims to host a number of heritage activities in the near future such as tours of the library and grounds, an oral history project and training opportunities.

I am so excited about this fantastic project.  The end result will have saved a historic building from further deterioration and provided a much needed community led center for engagement, in addition to the skills gained and experiences of the project itself.Lister Steps Carnegie Community Hub-A work in progress!Lister Steps Carnegie Community Hub-the West Derby Carnegie Library

I welcome all comments, suggestions and funding for the project!

Kerry Massheder-Rigby

Heritage Development Officer


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