Welcome to The Corner Shop

The corner shop is something that everyone has a memory of and is familiar with; it has been a British institution for over two hundred years and still plays an important role at the heart of Britain's communities today.

This website has been created to share the learning of the award-winning The Corner Shop Project and inspire and challenge others to document and explore this important part of our collective heritage.

Using a topic such as the local shop is an excellent way to engage diverse communities in exploring the history of their local area and the stories of people who live there. As a theme the corner shop can be used to deliver cross-curricular learning through key stages 2-4.

The Corner Shop Project 2008 - 2010

The Corner Shop Project is a social history project documenting Black Country* shops from 1950 - 2010.

During the project volunteers from all ages and backgrounds have helped us uncover the world of Black Country Shops: from 9 year olds doing research, and young people performing next to professional actors, to retired shop keepers sharing their memories. The project has engaged with schools and a wide range of Black Country communities.

The information sourced through archival research and recording oral histories has been presented in a variety of ways to engage with different audiences: live theatre, schools education projects, touring exhibition, archive presence and this web site.

This site provides an overview of the project and shares the models of good practice developed. It features videos, oral history extracts, image galleries and practical case studies to support your own corner shop themed projects. There are also over 30 resources to download aimed at education providers and informal learners.

The project is led by Black Country Touring and Foursight Theatre in partnership with English Heritage, Sandwell Community History & Archive Service, Sandwell Museum Service and Birmingham Archives & Heritage. New partnerships with Wolverhampton Arts & Heritage and The Mander Shopping Centre were also developed in 2009 to enable a second theatre production.

Click the two images below to view the promotional video for The Corner Shop project - winner of the Best of the West 2010 award in excellence by Renaissance in the Regions.

Video Part 1 (8 mins)

Video Part 2 (9 mins)

What is The Black Country?

The Black Country lies northwest of Birmingham and is made up of the boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and the City of Wolverhampton. It has an approximate population of 1.1 million. As with other urban areas in England the non-white ethnic minority population is quite large: 15.2% (an average of the four boroughs).

The Black Country was at the centre of the industrial revolution and by Victorian times was one of the most heavily industrialised areas of Britain. The name 'Black Country' derives from the description of the soot-filled blackened landscape due to the thousands of ironworking foundries and forges.

  • Schools Programme

    We worked with three schools to enable pupils (key stage 2) to research and discover more about their local shops and see how they might...

  • Theatre Production

    The Corner Shop theatre production was created in a shop and based on real stories collected with Black Country shopkeepers, their families...

  • Oral History

    Black Country Touring led on the training and research which was developed by working closely with heritage consultant Izzy Mohammed...

  • Community Engagement

    Community engagement was a key feature in The Corner Shop project. Ordinary people were provided with many points of entry into the project...

  • Using The Archives

    An integral part of the project was to build up an archive of material relating to local corner shops, which would be of use to researchers for...

  • Touring Exhibition

    The French Leader Napoleon said of the British in the early nineteenth century that we are 'a nation of shop keepers', but are we still?..

  • Partners & Funders

    A key aspect of the project's approach was to work in partnership. View contact details and short biographies of partners and funders on the Corner Shop Project.

  • Teaching Resources

    View a catalogue of downloadable resources to support your own Corner Shop themed projects.

  • Web Links

    For your interest we have provided some hyperlinks to other internet sites.