Gathering Stories of How the Tradition of Street Parties Developed
Many people think street parties are brilliant and so Streets Alive has gathered memories of street parties of old and how they linger over time and encourage people to continue to hold them today. This was particularly part of a project in 2013/14 funded by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
We mainly did this in Bristol because it is the UK’s street party capital with over 100 being held each year.
The result is shown in summary on our History page and all recordings are stored at Bristol’s MShed museum. Exhibitions of the history are also available for residents along with street party kits of road signs and bunting stored at community centres across the city.
We found that residents often have strong memories of having a street party, for example for the coronation in 1953, the Silver Jubilee in 1977, the millennium or more recently for the jubilee. In fact the earliest living memory of a street party is 1935 for the silver jubilee of George V.
Streets Alive promoted these great community-building events from 2001, encouraging them to be held anytime, including as more informal street meets without closing roads.
We gathered the story of how this great tradition has grown as it seems to be unique to the UK. Our research shows that street parties started in 1919 as children’s ‘peace teas’ after the 1st war and have been held for every national occasion since. In the many stories gathered people expressed how positive the events were for their street and community.