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Exploring St Hilda's

Left to right: Kate Metcalf, Emma McInnes, Sven McClean, Steve Thompson.

This week we visited Fountain Court to view a model display of St Hilda's, (also known as ‘over the border’) with Sven. It was fascinating to see how Steve Waller has recreated the old St Hilda's, giving insight into how it was developed in the 1830s, including landmarks, buildings, streets, pubs, shops and a marketplace. Sven was really interested in the old buildings including the Old Town Hall which still remains as well as commerce house. It was great that Sven could see how West Street looked where his mother Robertina Maclean grew up in the early 1900s and some of the other buildings that were still standing that his family will have been familiar with, including St Hilda’s Parish Church. I have know Sven for several years through his support for Ageing Better Middlesbrough where Sven was representative of an Older Peoples Action Group (ABMAG) working to reduce loneliness and isolation in older people, including supporting the co-design of a transport resource guide, review of public toilets, grants panels, researcher interviews, sensory support activities and much more. Sven is very well known in Middlesbrough for his valuable contribution, volunteering in many roles including Jo Waltons for over 30 years and received a Middlesbrough Council citizen of the year award in 2005, in recognition of three decades of voluntary service to the community. He was also a St John Ambulance volunteer. When Sven told me he had no family attending his 70th Birthday celebrations last year, that he had gone into care after he was born and wasn’t aware of any family connections. I promised to help him look into this and contacted Steve Thompson from the Rekindle Project to help us look into Sven’s family history and where he came from and since then Steve and his Ancestry Group have been on a mission to help Sven learn about his past.

Pictures Kate Metcalf

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