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Northamptonshire Oral History

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Information about oral history projects in Northamptonshire

If you would like to add details of your project to this page, email us at emoha@le.ac.uk. For all projects that have been granted Local Heritage Initiative grants, look at the LHI East Midlands page. For information about oral history in the other counties of the East Midlands have a look at the East Midlands Projects page.

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Blisworth Heritage Project. Blisworth has a wealth of history but has been overshadowed by Stoke Bruerne as a place of interest. Using materials from local historian George Freeston as well as oral histories and record office information, the Blisworth Heritage Project will encourage local interest & participation in village heritage. In particular, work with the children in the area, through local school will create enthusiasm for the village and its heritage for years to come. The project will also highlight the area as a site of interest to visitors and special interest groups. A series of historic routes around Blisworth & its Canal will be published via a walking guide leaflet and interpretation boards. These will benefit visitors, canal users and the local community.

The group will work with the school and pupils to create a children’s heritage trail and pamphlet and will create and perform a community play based on research of life in the village.
Mrs Maureen Smith, Blisworth Heritage Society. Finishing date 30 June 2007. HLF grant of £15,785.

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Bradlaugh Past. The aim of this project is to investigate the history of the park of Bradlaugh Fields in the town of Northampton. The project has been developed by the Bradlaugh Barns Association as a result of consultation with the public and through their own committee meetings. Research hopes to uncover the role people have played in relation to the natural, industrial and built heritage of Bradlaugh Fields, which in the past has been a farm, medieval quarry and a golf course. The Fields also narrowly escaped being developed for housing recently which has stirred up much community interest in the Fields. The project is in 3 parts: Research of the history of the fields through archives and oral reminiscence; Presentation of the information through a booklet, wall hangings, display and heritage walks; Celebration Event including Heritage Walks.

Background: Bradlaugh Fields are owned by Northamtonshire County Council and comprises of parkland and two Local Nature Reserves. These are managed by the Wildlife Trust for Northamptonshire with the help of local people. Although the Fields are surrounded by urban development they contain a variety of important habitats including rare limestone grassland and many ancient hedgerows. BTCV supports community action through the Bradlaugh Barns Association (BBA) and Friends of Bradlaugh fields. Group Name: Bradlaugh Barn Association Address: Bradlaugh Park, Northampton. Finishing Date 30/06/2004. The Group received a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £24,148

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Burton Latimer - A Sense of Place is a website which covers the history of the town and its people. Uses a few oral history extracts. Website: http://www.burtonlatimer.info/index.html

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Cogenhoe and Whiston Oral History Project. The Cogenhoe & Whiston Heritage Society was set up to highlight and record the tremendous heritage which exists in the area and to record it for future generation before it is lost. To this extent the oral history project involved research into the social, employment and industrial history of the Parish from 1900 and through to more recent times. This was accomplished through a total of 60 interviews with people who lived in the parish during that period. The majority still reside in the village today.

The Parish has an interesting industrial heritage including ironstone quarries, the boot and shoe trade, and railways. None of these are now active. Interviews have been recorded and transcribed. They have then been compiled along with archived photographs into a book and a double CD which were launched at the end of 2003. The CD which was produced with the help of a professional tudio is a unique opportunity to listen to the memories and recollections of the many people who lived in Cogenhoe and Whiston. In all the project amassed over 60 hours of taped interviews. Future projects are being planned which will include a small book on heritage walks in the area and a heritage fair. Project Contact: Dr Steven Hollowell Address: 6 Nene Rise, Cogenhoe, Northampton NN7 1NT. Finishing Date 31 December 2003. The Group received a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £9,282. Have a look at their website: http://www.cogenhoeheritage.org.uk/

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Corby - Corby Borough Council holds a number of images and other resources connected to the history of the steelworks in the town. A 2008/9 Learning Links project funded by MLA looked at using this resources to develop teaching and learning activities for pupils at Key Stage 2. Working in partnership with the staff and pupils of Woodnewton: A Learning Community school a selection of educational resources and activity outlines have been developed. Website - http://www.learnwithmuseums.org.uk/JourneyOverview.asp?ID=26

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Exploring Braunston's History. The project will focus on the close links between the industrial, built and cultural heritage of Braunston, featuring the influence and development of the Grand Union Canal over the last 230 years. Visual, oral and archaeological evidence will be researched, providing visitors and residents with an insight into the area's past, present and future. Written and digital resources for future generations will be lodged with local museums, archives and schools.

Locals will be involved by providing information, participating in events or volunteering as researchers or guides. Researchers will be involved in historical enquiry, collation of information and design of the finished resource documents and displays. The culmination of the project will be a set of events and walks which will be repeated in future years. The walks will be made permanent by the production of leaflets, plaques and interpretation boards.

Group Name: The Dick Herne Braunston History Society Project. The Group received a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £16,087. Please note that this project is now complete.

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Fermynwoods Gallery and Lyveden New Bield - created by Watch This Space, Hidden Tracks is a walk through the beautiful countryside between the Fermynwoods gallery and Lyveden New Bield, allowing audience members to discover the area's secrets as they go. Using an MP3 player and a map, the Hidden Tracks audio tour presents the history of a rural village and its surrounding woodland in a new and unique way. The audio tour is available for anyone to participate in simply by downloading the audio tracks and map from the hidden tracks website. http://www.hiddentracks.co.uk . Watch This Space website: http://www.watch-this-space.org.uk/home.html

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Proud of Kettering. The project will research the social, industrial and geographical changes in Kettering over the last 150 years. The findings will be presented in an interactive CD/DVD with an accompanying booklet. A launch event will invite the local community to come together to learn about the project, share memories and bring any memorabilia. Copies will be given to schools, libraries, museums and care homes within the Kettering area. Mr Bob Dillon, Proud of Kettering. Finishing date: 31 December 2006. HLF grant of £19,956.

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Milton Malsor is a small village situated 3 miles to the south of Northampton. The local history society have created an excellent website which features oral history clips and as well as a wealth of historical information about the village. Have a look at the website here: http://www.miltonmalsorhistory.org.uk/

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Northamptonshire ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England). The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded a grant of £49,900 to Northamptonshire ACRE to help fund ‘Village Voices’, an oral history project designed to record how life in rural Northamptonshire has changed since World War II. We also received a grant of £2,287 from the Welland Community Grant Pot. Rural communities, and life, has developed considerably since the end of World War II, and with the county being part of the Milton Keynes South Midlands growth area, further significant changes are anticipated for the future. It is vitally important to conserve the spoken heritage of our rural communities – if memories and experiences are not recorded, they will be lost. By digitally recording interviews, and transcribing conversations with individuals across the county, the project aimed to create a comprehensive addition to the county’s rich archive with a unique collection of memories.

The project, which commenced in May 2008, involved people from a wide variety of community groups across the county who were interested in participating on a number of levels. They were encouraged to identify themes of value to them and to freely explore and develop their thoughts and experiences, which promoted community involvement, and ownership of the project whilst celebrating and learning about the unique heritage of their rural community. All of the transcribed interviews have been made available to the widest possible audience for use as an educational resource – each interview has been transcribed and bound into a complete booklet, which, alongside the digital recordings, is now archived at the County Record Office in Northampton. Unfortunately, the Village Voices project came to a successful close in June 2010.  However, as stated above, all of the wonderful oral histories can be accessed via the County Records Office in Wootton Hall Park, Northampton.

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The Northamptonshire Black History Project is the result of a three year community-led initiative funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Home Office, Lloyds TSB Foundation and a number of other bodies. The project started in July 2002 and was due to be completed by July 2005. The Northampton Black History Association (NBHA) continues the work of the Project.

The Project aims to record and promote the histories and stories of Northamptonshire's Black communities and individuals over at least the past 500 years. To this end it involves three main activities:

  • Historical research to reveal the Black presence by looking at newspapers, parish records, paintings, photographs, gravestones and other media
  • Community archiving to preserve the records of today's Black communities and individuals for future generations
  • Oral history interviews to document the stories and experiences of people living in Northamptonshire today

The Project will be producing a database and website that will enable people to access this information. Members of the public are able to access these interviews at Northamptonshire Record Office where there are dedicated 'sound booths' to listen to the interviews and/or read full transcripts or interview summaries. Interview summaries are also available in the reference sections of Northamptonshire's Libraries.

The Autumn 2008 newsletter announces two oral history projects: 'Get Up, Stand Up: The History of Matta Fancanta' will document a youth group which was started in the 1970s, while a collaborative project between the NBHA and the University of Northampton will investigate Caribbean settlers in the 1960s and 1970s and the ways in which shopping for food, homes and entertainments helped to define a new community.

For more information about the Project have a look at the website: http://www.northants-black-history.org.uk/.

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Rushden Research is the website of the Rushden & District History Society Research Group and their project 'A History of Rushden - Hearts & Soles'. Rushden is a town which grew on the back of the shoe industry, which in turn was closely linked with the growth of non-conformism in the area. The outcomes of the project are the website and a stand-alone I.T. kiosk to be sited at Rushden Museum which will feature the website and AV recordings at greater length.  You can have a look at the website here - http://www.rushdenheritage.co.uk/

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Spratton Photographic History Book. This project will improve accessibility of information held in local archives by reproducing, in book and CD form, some of the many photographs held in the village archives raising awareness of the built, natural, industrial and cultural heritage that make Spratton distinctive. The whole local community will be involved in researching the background to the photographs and providing captions based on oral histories gathered through the process of the project. The CD will also contain genealogical information from the Society’s 3000 person database. At least two open events will be held where photographs will be exhibited and local people will have the opportunity to provide information or add to the photograph archive.

Group Name: Spratton Local History Society. Project Contact: Michael Heaton. Address: Mulberry Cottage, 6 Yew Tree Lane, Spratton. Northamptonshire NN6 8HL. Finishing Date 31 Dec 2003. The Group received a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £16565.

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Sulgrave Characters & Heritage Project. This oral history project recorded memories, including childhood, social life, notable events and customs, from villagers of Sulgrave, Northants. The Sulgrave History Society has created an archive of transcribed oral history interviews with over 40 local residents and copies have been deposited with the Northampton County Record Office. The Group received a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £10,574 and the project finished at the end of 2004. Further information can be found at http://www.sulgrave.org/index.html under the Sulgrave History Society link.

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Sywell Reservoir Waterworks Heritage Trail. The project site was a working water supply reservoir between 1906 and 1979. It is now a Country Park which attracts visitors from the local area. The project aims to use a framework of oral (existing and new) & written records to interpret the route of the water supply throughout the site. By so doing it will celebrate the locally distinctive Edwardian buildings, including a Valve Tower; provide a new safer access for all between these buildings; record and highlight some of the history of the valley before it was dammed and flooded; bring to life a neglected, rare sheep wash dating from the 18C and provide local schools with an important educational tool.

The end products will be a heritage trail with accompanying leaflet and interpretation panels. An education pack is also being produced closely with northamptonshire County Council (owners of the site) and is inviting the local community to be involved through the local media, newsletters and the schools. There will be a grand opening of the trail at the end of the project which will include guided walks. Group Name: Northamptonshire Industrial Archaeology Group (NIAG) Address: Northamptonshire
Project Postcode: NN2 6EN. The Group received a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £14,805

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West Haddon Local History Archives. The aim of this project is to make available to villagers, local interest groups and other parties, research data about the village. Information has been collected since 1980 but the group intend to continue collecting records and materials throughout this project. This includes census material, a survey of memorials in the local churchyard, information from wills and deeds, photographs and a complete transcript of the Parish registers remaining in existence.

Information will be collated and made accessible through a database. This will be available via a website and on CD ROM and also via presentations and exhibitions. The group intend to involve the local school in the collection of data from the churchyard. Oral histories will be collected from older members of the village. Training will be provided for local people in the construction and maintenance of the website and oral history recording. Group Name: West Haddon Local History Group. Project Contact: Sherry Calvert Address: Ashley House, Crown Lane, West Haddon, Northamptonshire NN6 7AP. Finishing Date 28 Feb 2007. The Group received a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £12,320.

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