Our project is a way of preserving our local history. We cannot emphasise strongly enough how vital it is to collect the personal recollections and memories of the local people, otherwise information will be lost like precious antiquities. We would like to record what it was like to live in particular decades in our town. Current and former residents can provide an insight of earlier times, linking the past, present, and future and giving continuity.
Although all official documents, letters, newspapers, secondary sources, etc. are very important, oral history can also be a valuable source of evidence for understanding the experiences of individuals or groups. We regard everyone’s contribution as valuable. We are particularly interested in hearing from people who lived here during the Second World War, but all decades are relevant to us.
Since the 1970s Oral history in Britain has grown to become part of community histories. These days the perspective has changed and so has the way history is taught in school. Micro history is the important detail of daily life from grass roots. And nowadays rather than major events, some histories which have been virtually hidden (for example the experience of the working classes, women’s histories or ethnic stories) are being given increasing importance.
There has always been a tradition of storytelling, so it is not new. Back in ancient times the Celtic legends and folklore, nursery rhymes and the words of songs were all preserved told and re- told and remembered down the generations before literacy was universal. Now the telling is once again being given more importance. But it is only if we remember to ask, and take time out of our busy schedule that the memories will be preserved. We may not think our story valuable, but others will do in the future and after all, no one can ask after we have gone! The stories of the individuals are eyewitness accounts and evidence of local happenings.