What is the Gorton Way?
The Gorton Way is a digital record of the people and places that make Gorton what it is – and what it was. The idea is for people to record their thoughts, memories and observations as they relate to a given point on the Way, an imaginary trail that runs through points of interest in the Gorton area, drawing together sites of natural, historical, and social and cultural importance.
We want to create a space in which the Gorton that lives in the minds of those who know it best can be documented and celebrated.
The ‘Gorton Way’ refers primarily to the website, and the broader project the website acts as a hub for – a digital record for a people’s history of Gorton. But it also evokes the idea of a trail, or even a journey, around a collection of sites in the area, and beyond that, a journey through time. We hope the project will speak to the importance of individual experience and personal memory to our understanding of place. We want it to be rewarding and empowering. But fun, too. It’s a chance for people to discover the joy of documenting their own story and contributing to the memory of the places they know and love.
We’ve included some information about the various sites and also written some of our own reflections to get the ball rolling. But we want everyone to get involved, and that’s really what the project is about – inviting people to contribute what they have to offer, about finding the story of someone or somewhere you once knew, connecting and sharing with others, celebrating a wealth of experience linked by a common thread: Gorton. So take a digital walk along the Gorton Way – you never know who or what you might find!
Anyone and everyone! Of course those who have some connection to Gorton will be the obvious candidates. But we really think anyone can benefit from discovering the wonders of real people’s experiences of this culturally, naturally and historically vibrant area. And we hope that this project will be an inspiration to residents in other areas to document their own history. It really is a celebration, not just of Gorton, but of the importance of recording the thoughts and memories of local people.
The Way itself currently comprises 30 sites located around Gorton – these were selected in addition to the 20 existing sites on the Gorton Heritage Trail. Most sites still exist physically and can be explored any time you’re out in Gorton (see our map), but others are now just a space where a point of interest once existed.
The idea is that these initial sites are just the start. We hope to add more as the project expands. We’re open to suggestions, so if you have any thoughts about new inclusions, let us know.
The website is run by a team of Gorton residents and volunteers. Some of us are local historians, some are involved in linked projects, others are just interested parties. We’re active in and around Gorton, and you’re likely to find us in any number of committees and local-interest groups. But it’s not a closed circle. So if you think you have something to offer, please get in touch.
Below is a list some of the current group:
Janet Wallwork – Local Historian
Frank Rhodes – Local Historian
David Ratcliffe – Local Historian
Rev.David Gray – Local Minister
Chris Kennedy – IT Enabler
Ann Todd – Publicity & Promotion
Geoff Garrard – Gorton Horticultural Society
Marion Ballard – Treasurer
Paul Kirkham – Secretary
Lesley Brereton – One Manchester Community Development
Mike Smith – Website Development & Content Editor
We spent some time considering what does and doesn’t fall within the territorial scope of the project. Where exactly do the boundaries lie when deciding what constitutes Gorton? It’s a harder task than you might think. Different people had different ideas. But for the purposes of this site we are including anywhere people would generally consider to be ‘the Gorton area’. We understand this term itself might prove controversial – it’s vague and therefore open to interpretation. But it’s easily understood. And a little ambiguity can be a good thing as it means we don’t have to be dogmatic. We don’t intend to waste too much time worrying about what is and what isn’t Gorton.
Our eventual hope is for the Gorton Way to expand beyond the project’s online roots and into Gorton itself – to give the digital platform a physical footing. The idea is to use QR codes (a type of barcode you can scan with your phone) as a real-world gateway to the website, with the codes being located at the various points on the Way. Think of the them like the website’s real-world footprints – but ones that work digitally. So you could visit Gorton Monastery, say, and by scanning the QR code at the Monastery with your phone, be taken to the Monastery’s page on the Gorton Way website, allowing you to interact with the online site whilst at the actual location.
The Virtual Way
We also want to give Gorton a digital footing, to record more than just memories, but in some small way, to record Gorton itself. We want to make it possible to explore the various points on the Way as though you were actually there, to experience Gorton virtually by allowing people to walk the Way online, so to speak.
It would be sort of like exploring a new city. You wander down an interesting-looking street, say, pause to look at a particular building. Maybe the architecture catches your eye. You might be curious to know who designed it, when it was built. Walking the virtual Way, you’d do just that: ‘walk’ – in a digital sense – down a road in Gorton, see something of interest, and stop to find out more. Providing its a point on the way, you click on a building and information pops up. You could then digitally enter the building and explore further, or be taken to its online page to search and share memories relating to that point. As the project grows and more points are added to the Way, the more there’ll be along the virtual Way to interact with.
Of course a lot of this is far off in the future. But the hope is that this novel mode of interaction will encourage even more engagement with the project, and with Gorton itself.
The point of the project is not to give a general or detailed history of the Gorton, but to encourage discussion of the area and its past among the people who know it. There are a number of easily identifiable sources which can give a general history already in existence. A quick online search or trip to the library should be good places to start.
How to use the site to explore Gorton’s history
The website and the wider Gorton Way project aim to explore Gorton’s past and present through a selection of points of interest. These are the points on the informal trail known as the Gorton Way. Throughout the site they a referred to as the Waypoints. Material isn’t restricted to the Waypoints however, and we invite contributions to the site on any topic relating to Gorton.
In order to find out more about Gorton, we would recommend using the Waypoints as a starting point. You could also visit Pieces from the Past, which is the central hub for all new posts on the website. Here you’ll also be able to find the latest comments and reactions to posts and the Waypoints. There’s also, our Gallery, if you prefer to browse by image.
If you want to find out about adding comments or get some advice on ideas for your own articles, then visit our Get Involved page.