After morning mass on Thursday 25th June, a bright and sunny morning, we hosted a coffee morning for parishioners at Our Lady and St Joseph’s Church. The aim of the coffee morning was to tell them about our research project and to learn more about the history of this faith community. The original church of Our Lady and St Joseph’s in Hanwell was built by Edward Pugin in 1860.
It provided a spiritual and social centre for the Irish migrant workers building the viaduct and Great Western Railway and it was to remain a predominantly Irish parish for a century. However it is now a diverse multi-ethnic parish with parishioners from Africa, the Caribbean, India and Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Poland and many other parts of the world. As the congregation expanded a larger modern church was constructed in 1967.
We invited parishioners to share photographs and memories with us. At least thirty people joined us for coffee. They brought with them a fascinating collection of old photographs.
Several people brought wedding albums, showing marriages in the old church in the early 1960s. There were pictures of girl guide camps, parish outings to Aylesford, tea parties, fancy dress parties and pantomimes.
We sought to scan as many of the pictures as we could to add to the church’s own archive and also arranged to do further oral history interviews with some of the participants. This ‘Sharing Memories’ event was a pilot for further events which we’ll run with other faith communities in our project. It also provided the foundation for the next stage of ethnographic research which we begin in the summer of 2015. We also hope it was an enjoyable social occasion for those who took part who enjoyed sharing memories and pictures with friends, some of whom they had not seen for a long time, and learning about our research project.
Please check out the excellent photos taken by our PhD researcher Laura Cuch here