Why a Website?

A brief history of the Project.

The Berry Hill area lies to the North east of the City of Stoke-on-Trent and has a long history of agricultural and industrial use and especially coal mining. When deep mining ceased on the site, a proposal was made to convert the site into an open cast mine. Following a campaign by the local residents of the area against this and the subsequent public enquiry agreeing that the site should not become an open cast mine, the site was left derelict.

As part of the Millennium celebrations a project was instigated to reclaim the site. The major partners in the project being Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Groundwork Stoke-on-Trent. The project was funded by Millennium Commission ‘Changing Places’ Programme and Advantage West Midlands.The aim was to sympathetically redevelop the site and to encourage its use by the community and a curricula resource to the local schools.

In order to meet part of the educational component, In the spring of 1999 The IT services department of the City Council in conjunction with two local high schools and the Educational Project Officer from Groundwork ran four web design and publishing study days, in which over 60 pupils were introduced to web design using industrial standard machines and software. It was from these that the formal Berryhill Fields web Project was set up.

The first meeting was hosted by The IT Services Department during the summer of 1998 when representatives were co-opted from other departments of the City Council, including Planning, Museums and Education as well as a number of representatives from local Schools. During subsequent meetings a mission agenda was developed for the website, that it would be :-

  • Educational in nature, appealing to a wide range of users from Primary School pupils to retired adults
    That it would aim to meet the requirements of the National Curriculum and to provide material that could be used in a curricula environment.
  • That the site would meet the wide diversity of requirements laid upon it by the Educationalists and also the local residents.
  • That the site would be an exemplar of how a website could be used, and keeping up with new developments in web use and web technology.
  • That it would be self sustaining and a continual growing site representing the life of Berryhill.

From the Autumn of 1999, the group appointed their own Web Development Officer with the aim of bringing together the massive amount of material that was available for the site. The material ranged from a large Photographic record, to detailed archaeological and environmental records, to examples of pupils work. This material was converted into formats suitable for use on the Internet and was categorised to meet the vast diversity of potential users.

In February 2000 two training days were held in conjunction with IT Training services at the SITECH Building, during which 26 teachers were given an intensive introduction to website design, website management and publishing. Following which they took the skills they had developed and used them in their own schools. This was the first intensive training of teachers in the use of web publishing within the City.

In the Summer of 2000 in conjunction with the University of Keele, two MSc students were seconded to the project to develop a Geographical Information System for the input and display of environmental data collected on the Fields. The system was developed to allow pupils across the whole age and ability range to input and display information. This required the development of complex database system that as well as being powerful, was easy to use and manage, as well as having the ability to grow with the demands over the coming years.

The site as it stands represents a large amount of work and dedication done by a large number of people within the City council and Groundwork. As well as work done by pupils across the age and ability range.

BUT the site is not finished, in the coming months there will be a number of full panoramic views from places on the fields themselves included as well as a fully interactive education game based on the 13th Century manor house that was found on the site.