Today Historic England launches podcast series and accompanying ebook called High Street Tales. These are the first outcomes of a four-year-long national Cultural Programme led by Historic England, in partnership with Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The £7.4 million Cultural Programme is part of the £95 million High Streets Heritage Action Zone initiative, which is currently working across 68 English high streets. It is funded with £40 million from the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport’s Heritage High Street Fund, £52 million from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Future High Streets Fund, and a further £3 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The Cultural Programme features new digital and physical artworks inspired by our nation’s high streets. It aims to make our high streets more attractive, engaging and vibrant places for people to live, work and spend time. Commissioned artists will work with local communities on high streets across England to co-produce artworks that respond to, document and reflect the changing high street. The new artworks will also be considered for submission into the Historic England Archive, the nation’s archive for records of England’s historic buildings, archaeology and social history.

Launching today: High Street Tales eBook and podcast series

Since last autumn, eight contemporary writers have worked with their local communities to explore the everyday magic of high streets, creating seven new short stories, or High Street Tales. Today the High Street Tales are published as an ebook which features an introduction by writer Andy Miller (author of The Year of Reading Books Dangerously), and is available via the Historic England website. The stories draw on local legend and memory to capture the everyday magic of the high street.

The eight writers have also narrated each of their stories for a podcast series which will be released over the coming weeks, with the first episode launched on 10th February on Historic England’s website and all major podcast platforms.

In Time and the Shoe Man, Celia Bryce explores North Shields high street in an evocative and otherworldly tale which follows a mysterious character on his journey down roads and through streets of the past to return a lost shoe to its home. Other stories include Woolwich Walls by Merrie Joy Williams, who has based her tale on Woolwich High Street, Flying by Maria Whatton (Wednesbury), Borrowed Ground by Robin Pridy (Hastings), All the Secret Postcards by Rod Duncan (Leicester), The Women of Number 11 by Rebecca Tantony (Weston-super-Mare) and Under the watchful eyes of seagulls by Ellie McKinlay-Khojinian and Ligia Macedo (Great Yarmouth).

More information on the wider Cultural Programme can be found here