“One day, I went to an antiques fair and there was one lady with her mother, who lived in a dementia home,” recalls Domenico Vaughan who, along with Denise Roberts, teaches people across Greater Manchester about their history.

“One lady picked up this item, a Victorian extendable wire toasting fork, and she said to her mum, ‘do you remember this mum? We used to have one of these at home,’ and the mother’s face just lit up and she said the memories came flooding back.”

Domenico was so inspired by the interaction that the pair founded the Mobile Museum of Memorabilia, in which they began taking “nostalgic and wacky items” into dementia homes, aiming to stimulate forgotten memories in the patients, as well as into schools to educate children on the past, using their array of historical artifacts.

“The thought that came to me is that there must be hundreds of people that are not in that fortunate position, where they have someone to take them out, and they miss out on all of this. So that’s when I first thought of the mobile museum of memorabilia.”

Domenico and Denise formed the group “The Merry Trotter” who, in Denise’s words, “trot through history” to teach people, through re-enactments, about eras in history spanning from the medieval period up to the 1960’s.

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Since this, the mobile museum’s collection of antiques has grown exponentially, and they have recently been granted lottery funding of £10,000 in order to allow them to continue their works. Domenico was speaking at the Salford Histories Festival, which was hosted on Saturday.

The festival was organised by the Salford Local History Forum, which brought together many of Salford’s history societies in order to teach the community about the past of Salford.

One of the organisers, Paul Hassall from Salford Local History Forum, said: “For many years there used to be a very successful local history fair that took place at Salford museum but because of the cutbacks it had to stop, but of one of the people here today, Paul Kelly from Irwell Valley Mining Project, decided that wasn’t good enough so he decided to get it started back up again.

“It started with one or two stalls, his idea was to go around the city of Salford to showcase the history of the different areas, and eventually it has just grown into this today where we have over 30 different stalls. The best thing about today is that you get to learn about all the different local history and heritage groups that are in Salford and bringing them all together here allows the community to come together, with old and young people, to learn about the area they are from.”

Paul went on to highlight another of the attractions that was on offer at the festival. “There is also the vintage bus, just outside the church, which is giving tours of the area.”

Image credit: Harrison Bates.

Loaned out from the Manchester Museum of Transport, a 1966 Metro-Cammell Orion was accessible for the public to hop on and experience public transport from over 50 years ago. Paul Wilkinson from the Museum of Transport said:

“This bus used to run around here, route 57 from Swinton that went to Pendlebury. You get shared interest from small kids who love the old buses and trains, with the older generation who get on and remember the old days.

“A big difference you will see here is that these only have steps, so it’s not disabled friendly at all, and there’s a big pole in the middle so if you come on with a push chair you’d need to take the kid out and fold it up to put under the stairs, but there’s only room for one so if that’s full and you have a push chair you’d have to wait an hour until the next one comes and hope that’s got space for it.”

Image credit: Harrison Bates

The bus tour ended back at the school on Vicarage Road, where inside one of its halls stood many of the stalls from the local trusts. Speaking on the festival, Mike Corless from Worsley Civic Trust said:

“We’re all working towards protecting local history at the end of the day, whether that’s from the mining aspects of the village, to people from varying local canal systems, to booksellers, we’re all just shop-fronting ourselves cohesively to protect the proud history of Salford.”

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