Walsall College’s Supported Learning (SLDD) students are on a roll, as their documentary about the Arboretum’s history will be featured on TV screens in the public park’s visitor centre from this week.
The documentary began as a citizenship project, as part of the students’ Foundation Learning Skills for Working Life course.
Students were required to make a video to promote Walsall as a place to visit and explore. Those on the Supported Learning and Skills for Working Life courses carried out research on Walsall and wrote the script for the film, while the Supported Learning Performing Arts students acted in many of the scenes.
20 students were involved in the making of the documentary, which took nine months to film.
The film premiered at Walsall College’s Venue theatre in front of a large audience, including Arboretum manager Louise Worton, who was also interviewed in the documentary.
The film received a standing ovation, and Louise was so impressed with the quality of the filmmaking that she requested it to be featured on the TV screens in the Arboretum’s visitor centre.
Louise said, “The documentary perfectly captures the history of the Arboretum, which many people otherwise wouldn’t know about.
By showing the film in our centre, we hope it enriches the visitor experience, as there is so much more to Walsall than meets the eye. It is home to a rich history that involves the Industrial revolution, historical events and of course, the Walsall Illuminations.”
At 15 minutes long, the insightful documentary delves into the history of the Victorian park, including the lake that was originally a limestone quarry that was later flooded.
The film also captures the story behind the wooden stocks, which are currently used as benches in the park. The stocks were once positioned at the bottom of the steps at St Matthews Church to punish those who committed petty crimes.
There is also footage of a statue of Walsall author Jerome K. Jerome, who wrote the book ‘Three Men in a Boat’ that was adapted into a TV series and a number of films. The Walsall Illuminations also make an appearance, an annual fairground event that was popular with residents in and outside of Walsall before its closure in 2008.
Paul Bagnall, Curriculum Manager for SLDD, said: “I’m really proud of what both of our SLDD students have achieved. It was a massive undertaking – they all worked together as a team and supported each other through-out the process. Teamwork and creativity are skills that are vital in the workforce, and our students have shown they have the qualities and skills needed for working life.”