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New Forest Communities Preserve History

A collaborative project between Ringwood based Forest Forge Theatre Company and the New Forest Heritage Centre in Lyndhurst, has set out on a mission to preserve the history and heritage of the Waterside area of the New Forest.


In Autumn 2019, working in partnership with the New Forest Heritage Centre, Forest Forge Theatre Company invited residents in four communities to share photographs and stories expressing the Waterside area’s fascinating and diverse history, working with playwright David Lane to bring their memories and experiences together.


The results of the project will culminate in a three-week long exhibition called 22 Miles of Sea which will be available for public viewing from the 14 February to 8 March at the New Forest Heritage Centre in Lyndhurst.


This pop-up exhibition captures the moving, entertaining and often profound tales of people and places from the Waterside stretch of the New Forest too often regarded as separate to its history and culture.


Forest Forge Theatre CEO/Creative Producer, Sharon Lawless said,”The waterside area has been recognised as having the lowest engagement rate with the arts in the New Forest, it is also one of most deprived areas of the forest. This project is so interesting as it's a collaboration between a theatre company, museum, and a playwright. Far from a photography project, we've used the photos as prompts for people to share their stories and celebrate the heritage of their communities, stories that otherwise would be lost.


Things have changed so quickly that the connection between the Waterside area and the New Forest itself has become lost. The Waterside is personally my favourite part of the forest and it's been a joy to celebrate it with this project. After the exhibition in Lyndhurst we will be taking what we've found back to its communities, and are hoping to develop these stories into a play later in 2020."


The project was made possible with funding from the New Forest National Park Authority, National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England, and the New Forest District Council. It also received support from Folio New Forest, Hythe Waterside Heritage, Hythe & Waterside Rotary, and Revital Hythe.


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