The First ‘Passions’ Project, 2014-15

The Passions of Youth was a youth-based community project which took place in Manchester and Salford in 2014-2015. This intergenerational project, which worked with FC United, Collyhurst & Moston Lads Club, Salford Youth Hub, and a Basketball team at The Factory Youth Zone, brought working-class young men in their teens together with historians, youth and community workers, film-makers, elderly people, exhibition curators, archivists, and local communities to create stories and images men about their leisure passions and how these have changed since the Second World War.

The following film describes the project and how it came about.


Youth studies and histories of youth have often focused on the exceptional and sensational, rather than the ordinary and everyday. Working-class boys and young men are often stereotyped negatively in popular culture. It is widely accepted that heritage, arts and culture are in the main accessed and understood by a white, affluent, middle class, educated demographic. Passions of Youth contested these assumptions.  It celebrated the informal learning, skills and experiences that ‘ordinary’ working-class boys and young men often develop through everyday leisure activities of their own choosing, using shared leisure passions as a medium through which to build on informal skills using different creative approaches. Learning technical and story-making skills grew confidence. The young men created their own stories and images about how the leisure lives of working-class young people in Manchester and Salford have changed since the Second World War. They received training in various creative activities such as oral history techniques, filming and archive research. Research visits to the People’s History Museum, Archives+ at Manchester’s Central Library, the North West Film Archive at Manchester Metropolitan University, Salford Museum & Art Gallery,  National Football Museum and the Working-Class Movement Library in Salford helped develop pride in local stories of heritage and local identity, which were subsequently shared in celebratory events in north Manchester, at the Miners’ Community Arts and Community Centre and FC United Community Football Club.


Being Boys

Passions was inspired by Professor Melanie Tebbutt’s book, Being Boys: Youth, Leisure and Identity in the Inter-War Years. Being Boys used everyday leisure activities as a lens through which to explore the masculinities of working-class boys in the interwar years.   It focused on ‘ordinary’ and ‘everyday’ experiences during adolescence and on how feelings and emotions were expressed through recreational experiences.

Research for Being Boys was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), which provided further funding in the form of an AHRC follow-on award for her Passions of Youth engagement project.

Passions developed a community-based interpretation of some of the book’s themes, by using leisure enthusiasms as a medium through which to break down educational and cultural barriers with hard-to-reach working-class teenagers and engaging them with the historical and heritage of their leisure pursuit. 

the ‘passions of youth’ project team, 2014-15

Professor Melanie Tebbutt: Principal Investigator – Melanie specialises in the history of youth in the 19th and 20th centuries. Her research interests include working-class women, communities and cultures, families and social networks, and gender, leisure and the history of youth in modern Britain. Her book, Being Boys: Youth, Leisure and Identity in the Inter-war Years (Manchester University Press, 2012: paperback 2014), which explored the masculinities of working- class boys and young men through their leisure activities, was the inspiration for the Passions of Youth.

Sue Reddish: Creative Lead – Sue is a freelance theatre maker, digital storyteller and arts consultant, who has considerable experience of initiating and delivering both large-scale projects and bespoke facilitation.

Jim Daziel: Jim is a community film maker who has considerable experience of working with different communities in NW England.

Claire Turner: Project Manager – Claire was Chief Executive of Manchester Histories, the charity that delivers Manchester Histories Festival. She has over 20 years’ experience of working in the cultural, tourism and charity sectors, establishing charitable organisations, initiating and programming major events, developing community arts projects and providing consultancy for a range of organisations.

Dr Rebecca Andrew: Co-Investigator – Rebecca completed her PhD, The Leisure Identities of Rural Youth: Tradition, Change and Sense of Place in Lakeland, 1930-early 1950s, at Manchester Metropolitan University. She is a Lecturer in Historic Landscapes and Environments at the University of Chester.

Dr. Fiona CossonResearch Associate – Fiona is a social and oral historian with particular interests in community history and in histories of communities. She is a Senior Lecturer in Modern History at Bournemouth University.

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