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Archive for the ‘Oral history’ Category

The Great British Story: Bexley

A free BBC local history event

Saturday 23 June 2012, 10am – 4pm

Hall Place and Gardens, Bourne Road, Bexley, DA5 1PQ

This is a ticketed event. Apply for your FREE tickets by visiting http://www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/events or by calling 03709 011227

In a new TV series presented by Michael Wood, The Great British Story looks at history through the eyes of ordinary people, uncovering what life was like for everyday Britons over the last 1600 years.

Now it’s your chance to get involved! Come along to a BBC local history event, discover Bexley’s fascinating history and learn how to delve into your own past. Find out more about family history, archaeology, oral history, artefacts and local heritage.

Find YOUR place in history:

  • Listen to historian, broadcaster and writer Michael Wood discussing The Great British Story
  • Track down your ancestors with help and advice from family history experts
  • Learn how experts conserve and protect treasures from the Museum of London
  • Find out how to date your old photos, if you’ve inherited an family photo bring it along to find out more
  • Learn how to discover the history of your home using local archive sources
  • Discover Bexley’s archaeological treasures and show your own mystery finds to our experts
  • Explore the history of Bexley through local heroes, landmarks, working lives and industrial heritage
  • Take part in a reminiscence session and share your memories of working in and around the Thames Gateway
  • Plus a full programme of talks will run throughout the day

and much more…

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The Clock Tower in Bexleyheath: what does it mean to you?

A meeting place? Your first kiss?

Bus stop? Historic landmark?

Have any events taken place there?

Do you have a personal experience you would like to share?

If so we want to hear from you! The ‘Changing Times’ project will record memories so that we can piece together a people’s history of this busy street.

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The project website is at http://www.bexley.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=12418 – this now has a link to the 1912 film of the opening of the Clock Tower, plus a selection of photographs on various themes.

There are many ways in which you can become part of the ‘Changing Times’ project. Following the oral history workshop on 29 October and the purchase of a voice recorder, we are now ready to go ahead with oral history interviews. You could be an interviewer or an interviewee.

Perhaps you would like to take photographs of the Broadway so we can build a complete photographic record of the street as it appears now.

If you would like to take part in historical research and you have internet access, you don’t even have to leave your home! An outline of local history resources is shown at http://www.bexley.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=2733

Go to http://archives.bexley.gov.uk and search in the Picture Catalogue for ‘Broadway’. This will bring up a variety of images of interest. Is there one that you find particularly intriguing? How about the picture of H. Nicholls, baker, of 221-223 Broadway dating from 1905-10? Can you link it up with other sources?

You could search the archive catalogue again: does the name ‘Nicholls’ come up in any newspaper articles or archive records?

Does he appear in any trade directories? Local Kelly’s directories are available at http://www.bexley.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=10646

There are also research notes on various topics which may have something useful at http://www.bexley.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=10173

Another resource which may be of use is the Bexleyheath War Memorial list of names, available at http://www.bexley.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=10647

Background information on Bexleyheath from a town-planning point of view is at http://www.bexley.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=3023

Perhaps you would like to find out what Bexleyheath was like in 1986. Is there anything useful at http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/domesday/using-domesday that we could use for the project?

Is there anything interesting on Bexleyheath’s history at http://www.ideal-homes.org.uk/?

What about the Broadway’s future? See http://www.tescobexleyheath.co.uk/

You could use these resources to write a few words, a paragraph or something longer which could then be used straight away on the website and social networking sites to attract interest to the project. Your words could also be used for a future newspaper or magazine article, in the guided walk, the education resource pack or in the exhibition next year. Your individual contribution will be appreciated, however large or small.

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Where is the best location to interview someone about their memories? What questions should you ask? How do you make an interviewee feel comfortable? These and many more questions were answered at an oral history workshop on Saturday 29 October. Judith Garfield of Eastside Community Heritage talked to us with great enthusiasm about the best methods and practices for oral history interviewing, with the occasional illustrative anecdote thrown in.

The workshop, which took place at Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre, was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund grant awarded to Bexley Historical Society’s ‘Changing Times’ project. It was successful in attracting interest to the project and to the Bexley Historical Society.

The HLF grant has enabled the purchase of new equipment for the society, including a voice recorder. This means we can start putting our newly-learnt skills into practice straight away! So, if you have memories of the Broadway, Bexleyheath that you would like to talk about, please get in touch. Or perhaps you know a family member, friend or neighbour who might like to share their experiences. This will help us to piece together a history of this street from the point of view of the people who have lived, worked and shopped there.

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People’s memories are an important source of local history knowledge. They tell us about the events, places and people which aren’t in the text books. They give us the tiny details and the emotions felt. Individual personal experiences can illustrate big events on a level that we can understand. And every person’s experience is just as important and valid as another’s.

But these memories are hidden away. Once that person has gone, the memories are gone with them. How many times have we said to ourselves ‘if only my grandparents were still around to ask…’?

This is why oral history projects are so important. They unlock the memories before it is too late. The ‘Changing Times’ project will collect and record as many oral histories as possible to piece together a history of Bexleyheath, telling it from the viewpoint of those who have lived, worked and shopped there. All ages can take part: local history is living history, and present-day experiences need to be recorded just as much as those from past times.

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