Last week I attended the Community Archives and Heritage Group (CAHG) annual conference at University College London (UCL).
The day began with a talk by historian Michael Wood on an archaeological project he had embarked on a few years ago for a BBC television series exploring the history of Britain through the eye of Kibworth, Leicestershire. To fit with the conferences theme of public engagement and volunteering he focused mainly on the involvement of local people in the project and how it had united and excited the community.
Next came volunteers from The Prefab Museum which celebrated Britain’s post war prefab houses. They had encouraged artists to use the Museum (based in a prefab) as an exhibition space for their work inspired by prefabs and had also attracted many visitors who had either lived in prefabs themselves or had relatives who had, so the site evoked a lot of fond memories. Sadly due to a fire they had been forced to close the museum but were hopeful of locating another appropriate site in the near future. In the meantime they are maintaining an online museum (http://www.prefabmuseum.uk).
The third talk of the day took us to Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies who described a very ambitious art project Threads of Time working with textile artists to create original pieces based on the archives. Artist Jojo Taylor really brought the project to life by describing her experiences of engaging with the collections and showing her work inspired by the tale of a woman accused of witchcraft being drowned and the female admissions book for the local asylum. The final result was a very eerie and affecting piece of artwork.
The morning ended with the announcement of the various CAHG award winners. I was pleased to hear that picking up the prize for best website was Ryde Social Heritage Group, Isle of Wight. Congratulations to them! During the Living Links Community Archives Project a few years ago we worked very closely with the Ryde group in setting up an Heritage Audio Trail and we’re delighted that they have gone from strength to strength since then. The site is packed full of detail and well worth a look (http://www.rshg.org.uk).
The afternoon saw each award winner have chance to describe their project in more detail. The winner of Community Archive Group of the year was the Milford Street Bridge Project from Salisbury who had turned an ugly concrete underpass into a work of art based on the memories of local people. So as you drive through you can see a mural of houses and businesses which used to be in that location before the bypass was built as well as people and objects which represent some of the stories collected.
The day was completed by talks on the British Chinese Workforce Heritage Project including a film where British Chinese people of all ages described their experiences. Two members of the University of Hertfordshire Heritage Hub gave us their tips on working with community groups and engaging volunteers and a staff member and volunteer talked about the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton. There was also a talk by Clare Summerskill who discussed her new play, presented by Artemis Theatre Company, Rights of Passage based on interviews with LGBT asylum seekers in the UK.
So a really wide and interesting selection of themes covered during a very interesting day.
Tomorrow I will again be attending the Community Archives and Heritage Group (CAHG) annual conference at University College London (UCL). CAHG is a national group for community archives and their supporters which aims to encourage wider development of and participation in community archive and heritage initiatives. The conference always includes an interesting and enjoyable range of speakers, highlighting a variety of community archive projects from across the country. The overall theme for this year is engagement. It also includes the announcement of the Community Archive of the Year. Lets hope for a Hampshire winner for 2015. I shall report back on the events and highlights of the day in next weeks blog.
Further Wessex Film and Sound Archive films are now available to view online through the BFI Player, as part of the Britain on Film collection launched today. The BFI Player is available at http://player.bfi.org.uk/britain-on-film . If you scroll down, the section for England is at the foot of the page, and there is an interactive map at http://player.bfi.org.uk/britain-on-film/map/#/52.67097439/0.3119605000/7/England.
At Wessex Film and Sound Archive you can see and hear history, from late Victorian times to the present day, through moving images and sound recordings. The Archive contains over 36,000 film and sound recordings relating to Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, including film and tapes of local TV and radio. For more information go to http://www3.hants.gov.uk/wfsa.htm.
Next month we will receive a further visit from members of the Discovering Lepe’s Cold War History project. Regular followers of the blog will recall that their aim is to uncover the history of the Stone Point Nuclear Monitoring Post, a fascinating remnant of the Cold War that lies hidden from view at Lepe Country Park. Part of this work will involve conducting oral history interviews with local people recording their memories of the site and the period of history. We hope that the results of the project will eventually be deposited with Wessex Film and Sound Archive. To support this element of the project Hampshire Record Office is providing a training session on the best way to record oral histories and demonstrating some of the equipment that can be used.
Places still remain on the next Archive Ambassador training day, here at Hampshire Record Office on Wednesday 26 August 2015, 10am-3.30pm. We have been running these sessions for several years and they have proved to be very popular and useful to those with specific projects such as caring for village, society or personal archive collections. During the day you will receive tuition on archive preservation by Tim Edwards, Head of Conservation, cataloguing by one of our archivists, digital records by Heather Needham, Principal Archivist (ICT and E-Services) and oral history recording by archivists David Rymill and Mark Pitchforth. The day offers an excellent grounding in the best practices of archival care and a chance to network with others that share your passion for preserving Hampshire’s heritage. To book a place ring 01962 846154. More info
This week I had a very productive meeting with Ian Loynes, the CEO of SPECTRUM Centre for Independent Living in Southampton, an organisation run by and for disabled people across Hampshire to promote the meaningful inclusion of disabled people into the community. Last year they celebrated their 30th anniversary which has led to them considering the history of the organisation and the importance of preserving that history. Ian has written a history of SPECTRUM tracing the development of the organisation in 1984 up to the present day. The book also discusses the historical and cultural context, drawing parallels with other civil rights movements.
SPECTRUM hold a large quantity of records dating back to their formation and the ambition is to engage a project team of volunteers to list this collection in more detail with a long term aim to make it accessible to researchers. We hope that they may be able to join us for an Archive Ambassador training day in the near future and perhaps even a behind the scenes tour. There is massive potential for related activities such as oral history recording projects, the creation of an exhibition and further publications telling the story of SPECTRUM but it is still very early days. It’s great that Hampshire Record Office is involved to offer appropriate advice and guidance as the project takes shape and we look forward to seeing how things progress.
Mark Pitchforth, archivist
Hampshire Record Office
The Magna Carta and Hampshire exhibition proved very popular at the Dudley Keep Memorial Lecture in the Great Hall earlier this week and has now taken up residence in the foyer of Hampshire Record Office, Hampshire County Council’s Archive and Local Studies service. Access is free so do pop in and take a look. It was produced jointly by Hampshire Record Office and The Odiham Society and excitingly includes a copy of the vernacular French translation of the Charter of Liberties (Magna Carta) produced on parchment with quill and oak gall ink and bound in vellum. The display also highlights many of the archives from the period held by Hampshire Record Office including King John’s charter to the men of Andover dated 1205. The lecture proved a great success and followed the unveiling of two Magna Carta memorial plaques earlier in the day at Odiham Castle by HM Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Nigel Atkinson Esq and outside the Great Hall, Winchester by the Chairman of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Jonathan Glen. The designs for the plaques were the result of a competition run by Hampshire County Council and open to secondary schools and sixth form colleges across Hampshire.
The Magna Carta and Hampshire exhibition produced as part of the 800th anniversary celebrations by Hampshire Record Office, home of Hampshire County Council’s Archives and Local Studies and The Odiham Society was on show yesterday at the special citizenship ceremony in The Great Hall, Winchester organised by the Registration Service. The exhibition will be on display again in the Great Hall next week for the Dudley Keep Memorial Lecture and then accessible to all, free of charge in the Record Office foyer from 11 June to 30 September 2015. More info: http://www3.hants.gov.uk/record-office/eventdetails-hro?id=268744