A YEAR-long arts project will celebrate a town’s heritage, stories, poems and coal mining background.

The Civic Arts Centre in Oswaldtwistle is gearing up to celebrate the town’s past and culture with a £20,000 ‘Welcome to Gobbinland’ arts scheme.

Over the next 12 months the centre is to focus on finding and highlighting the essence of being from Oswaldtwistle and what it means to be a ‘Gobbiner’. The scheme is to culminate in December with a script written piece of drama, a short film, an exhibition and a celebratory red carpet event for all those involved.

The centre is speaking to elderly people in the area with the aim of preserving stories of Oswaldtwistle’s recent past. The centre is also looking for young people to get involved in the heritage and drama projects which will feature in the coming months.

Oswaldtwistle's historic Gobbin Lamp, which would originally have been a gas lamp, marks a dividing line in the area. People living above the lamp were Gobbiners, who were usually associated with the coal mining or stone quarrying industries, and those below were more likely to be involved in the textile industry.

Sophie Fitzpatrick at the centre, who is leading the Heritage Lottery-funded project, said many people have heard the terms ‘Gobbiner’ but few people have an understanding of what it means.

She said: “It basically means a blackened piece of coal but we have heard all sorts of fanciful stories too. Many people were told stories as a child that Gobbiners were a type of fairy who lived in the mines and who came out at night. There are all sorts of songs, poems and stories that we want to preserve as well as high-lighting the history of the area.

“There’s so much done which remembers the textile history of Lancashire, the coal mining is sometimes forgotten. That is central to being a Gobbiner. The last mine only closed in the thirties, so we can look at what stories and history remains of that time.”

The centre will be holding its first free public event on Saturday February 23 at Civic Arts Centre from 1pm. The event will be an organised community walk, rain or shine, around Oswaldtwistle uncovering the sites of the old filled-in mines, with fun outdoor performances of local stories and poems.

For more information on how to get involved contact Sophie Fitzpatrick on sophie@civicarts centre.co.uk or call the Civic Arts Centre on 01254 398319.