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‘It’s part of our community, where we live’: Urban heritage and children’s sense of place

Grimshaw, Lucy and Mates, Lewis (2021) '‘It’s part of our community, where we live’: Urban heritage and children’s sense of place.', Urban Studies .


The literature on a ‘sense of place’ often sidelines the voices of children. Consequently, little is known about how children can be encouraged to develop a sense of place. This matters because a sense of place involves feelings of belonging and attachment, and can contribute to children’s wellbeing and identity. Informed by the research of Bartos and Severcan, we deploy data from a qualitative research project in a primary school in a former coalfield area in the north-east of England to argue that children’s experiences of learning about their urban local history and heritage can help to develop their sense of place. Placing children’s voices centrally in our research, we explore how they engage with learning about local mining history, and the impact of place-based pedagogy. Emphasising the possibilities and importance of their deep involvement with their urban heritage, we show, firstly, the ways in which children’s sense of place is strengthened when they develop a feeling of ownership over their own history. Secondly, we explore how children develop a sense of place through engaging their emotions and physicality, and, thirdly, their senses. We conclude that learning about local history through place-based pedagogy allows children to create and interpret historical events and develop a sense of place. Taking ownership of their history makes the children active participants in telling the story of their place. Children can then develop new ways of seeing themselves in places, as they make connections between the past, present and future.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:08 September 2021
Date of first online publication:10 July 2021
Date first made open access:08 September 2021

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