The Box – helping to make Plymouth proud

Family raves, Beryl Cook and memories of Maker camp are helping the team behind the Box change what Plymouth people think about culture – long before the city’s exciting attraction opens its doors.

A staggering 41,500 people have enjoyed a wide range of events designed to draw out memories and stories since January this year and 5,800 volunteers have helped make these happen.

Plymouth’s Brexit, Infrastructure and Legislative Change Overview and Scrutiny Committee will look at the difference The Box is making to Plymouth residents as the impressive construction project continues to take shape on North Hill.

With 581 days to go before it opens, the flagship culture and heritage project is already making waves, they will hear.

Deputy Leader of the Council Pete Smith said: “The Box has always been about more than just a building. It is about getting people to tell their stories and to rightly be proud of their city and the people who live here.”

The Box on Tour community engagement programme, largely funded by HLF, has seen hugely-successful pop-up galleries in the Council House including At Home with Beryl Cook and a display on the Blitz and reconstruction of Plymouth in the 1940s and 50s in 2017, which is now in the House of Fraser. The programme also played a part in the 70th anniversary of the NHS with a display at Derriford Hospital’s main entrance.

The programme is also gathering information, anecdotes and objects that help tell stories that are uniquely Plymouth. They include:

  • Maker Memories – a look at the South East Cornwall camp, which was a military camp and then a holiday camp for Plymouth school children and an arts and cultural hub.
  • Plymouth after Dark – a project that will lead to an exhibition in the Box, it will tell tales of Plymouth’s nightlife, its clubs, pubs, workers, ravers and players as well as communities living close by
  • Your Recipes, Your Heritage – explores the city’s eating habits and fashions over just the past century. Working with CaterEd, it will delve into the recipe books of Plymouth people to create heritage themed menus. It will also tackle social isolation and create opportunities for people to share meals and stories.
  • Plymouth Roots – the city’s flora and fauna will be used to explain Plymouth’s botanical influence and offer activities to improve health and wellbeing – and practical gardening support.

Plymouth’s young people are being involved in planning The Box and have been testing the development of sessions for families while teachers from city schools have been engaged with planning educational opportunities including a ‘masterclass’ offer and access to range of experts which will help raise aspirations for less engaged pupils.

More about The Box in numbers

  • 49,883 people got involved in Box-related events last year
  • 61 people will employed in The Box
  • 70 per cent pf the sub-contractors and consultants working on building Box are based in Plymouth
  • 17,600 people visited temporary exhibitions in the Council House in 2017
  • 10,000 people have viewed the ‘Plymouth – From Destruction to Construction’ exhibition on floor 5 of the House of Fraser
  • 500 extra jobs in tourism as a result
  • 30 hard hat tours for the public have been held on site
  • Over 412 waged training weeks (apprenticeships) on the construction site completed
  • 14 construction industry qualifications achieved by workers on site
  • Over 60 per cent of the workforce live within 10 miles of the site