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This year, Oakdale Workmen’s Institute – or the ’Stute as it was known locally – is celebrating its centenary. Built during the First World War, it was at the very heart of community life in Oakdale until the late 1980s when it was moved to the Museum. To mark this important milestone, we recently launched the #Oakdale100 project with the aim of re-interpreting the building and making it alive again with community voices.

As part of the project, we’ve been revisiting our archives – digging out photographs, oral history interviews and objects associated with the building. I’ve been looking specifically at the photographic collection – digitising hundreds of images, with colleagues from the Photography Department, which we previously only held in negative format. The photos document the wide range of events and activies which took place in the Institute – from the visit of Prince Albert in 1920 to amateur dramatics in the 1950s. They also capture the architecture of the building and the fixtures and fittings of each room. My personal favourite is the photo of the library, showing a young boy browsing the shelves.

As well as digitising the material we already have in the collection, we’ve also been busy making connections with the Oakdale community of today. Last year, we held a drop-in workshop in the village, encouraging local people to share their stories and scan their images for the Museum’s archive and People’s Collection Wales.

We also recently set-up a Facebook page for the project and what a response we’ve had! We’ve been inundated with anecdotes and memories, comments and photographs. It’s certainly a powerful tool for re-engaging with the community.

If you have any stories or photographs associated with Oakdale Institute, please get in touch. We would especially like to hear from you if you have photographs of parties or gigs, which we know were regular occurances at the ’Stute in the 1960s-80s.

Richard Edwards

Digital Content Officer / Public History Assistant

Comments(1)

Carol Honey
3 October 2018, 13:58
Hello, I used to live in Oakdale as a child in the 40s and 50s. My grandfather was William Alfred Phillips (Bill Phillips) who at some point was the chairman of the Stute and also had something to do with the cinema. My grandmother was Laura Phillips and they lived at 18 Ashville. They were both involved in the Amateur Dramatic Society and I have many fond memories of those days. I recognise the woman in the photo on the left in the black coat and I also recognise the man in the white coat though I have no memory of their names - the woman I'm sure used to live in Ashville too. I would love to find out more of those times. I recently went to St Fagins and visited the Stute building and was taken right back to those days - quite an emotional experience. Please can you let me know more. Thank you, Carol

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