Family looking forward to House of Lords date17:23, 13 Feb 2012
A family whose research work highlights the historic importance of public parks in Nottingham have a date at the House of Lords this week.
Victoria McMillan and daughters Molly and Iona, from Attenborough Lane, in Attenborough, travel to London on Wednesday to meet Baroness Joan Walmsley, the Children, Schools and Families spokesperson in the Lords.
The family produced a unique historical book in relation to the 1845 Nottingham Inclosure Act which was part of the work of an Olympiad Journals group that has been working with the County Council’s Archives service. Molly and Iona McMillan also created a prize-winning Trail round Nottingham’s parks that they produced for an On The Trail children’s competition organised by Nottinghamshire Archives.
In the mid-1800s, the Alderman and Burgesses of Nottingham seized the opportunity of enclosure to apply for a Parliamentary Inclosure Act to preserve public parks for the people to enjoy – thus ensuring recreation areas were made and protected for future generations.
The city was a pioneer in creating sites including The Forest Recreation Ground and The Arboretum, where thousands still enjoy picnics and other leisure pursuits today.
Following the McMillan family’s success, Nottinghamshire County Council archivist Chris Weir wrote to Lady Walmsley to tell her about their Book – and she wrote back inviting the family to tea, to discuss their work and for a tour of the House of Lords.
Mum Victoria, 40, said: "We were quite taken aback as it is not the sort of invitation you expect but are delighted and honoured to be going there. It is fantastic news that the project is of such a standard that Lady Walmsley wants to meet us and we will enjoy the visit very much.”
Daughter Molly, 14, said: "We are very excited to have the chance to look around the House of Lords”; and Iona, 12, added: "It is a great end to a project which we all enjoyed researching. We learnt a lot about Nottingham’s history through the project.”
Nottinghamshire County Council’s Olympiad Journals Group (Cultural Olympiad) involved around a dozen children who have been recording all aspects of the historic parks and open spaces created in the Inclosure Act in Nottingham. It has been meeting for about a year, and the project was funded by Leicester-based young people’s creative development agency for the East Midlands, The Mighty Creatives (TMC), through the Big Lottery Fund.
Archivist Chris Weir, who will join the trio at the House of Lords and will trace the Inclosure Act documents now in the Parliamentary Archives, said: "I am delighted that the McMillan family have been invited to meet Lady Walmsley.
"I wrote to her and explained that the project’s roots were in the 1845 Nottingham Inclosure Act which had been passed by Parliament and which preserved the public parks and open spaces of Nottingham.
"It would therefore have had to go through both the Houses of Commons and the House of Lords for final approval. I thought it would be great if Lady Walmsley, the Lord’s spokesman for young people, got the chance to meet them and discuss their work, and ultimately, how a decision rubberstamped by the House of Lords had shaped the Nottingham landscape of today.”
The project discusses a selection of open spaces involved in the act through the eyes of young people. The family researched the history of the Inclosure Act and the creation of the public parks, filmed and took photographs and discussed the importance of them historically and to the communities they still serve today.
Around 12 winners – including the McMillan family - were presented with awards from the Nottinghamshire Local History Association in November by Coun John Cottee, Cabinet Member for Culture and Community of Nottinghamshire County Council.
He said: "The winners of the On The Trail competition illustrate the creativity and awareness that our young people have for Nottinghamshire and the value they place on the county and city’s heritage. Their parents and communities can be proud of them.”