Leicestershire & Rutland
(Cynthia Brown & Colin Hyde)
EAST MIDLANDS ORAL HISTORY ARCHIVE
A series of interviews to mark ninety years of the British Legion in Leicestershire and Rutland has now come to an end. All the information gathered through the interviews will be kept at the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester & Rutland (ROLLR) along with documentary material collected as part of the same project. There is more information at www.leics.gov.uk/britishlegion. Videos from the ‘Migration Stories’ project have been added to the EMOHA YouTube site and are also presented on a map of the East Midlands on the Migration Stories website at www.migrationstories.co.uk/. The ‘Village Voices’ project to record Leicestershire accents and dialects has been extended to cover more ground and add to the recordings already collected.
EMOHA held its annual Oral History Day in June 2012 on the theme of ‘Telling Stories’, attended by delegates from across the region. Speakers included Sally Horrocks from the University of Leicester, who is also Academic Advisor to the National Life Stories ‘Oral History of Science’ project, and Ruth Page from the University’s Department of English who spoke about narrative theory; Michelle Winslow on recording end-of-life stories in a palliative care environment in Sheffield; Helen Bates and volunteers from the ‘On the Flats’ project on Hyson Green in Nottingham (see Nottingham below for more details); Roger Kitchen on digital storytelling; and Pete Davis, a storyteller, who described his work with elderly people with dementia – as well as telling a story of his own!
Other work in Leicestershire and Rutland over the past year includes a one-year project by Mosaic, a Leicester-based organisation providing information and services to disabled people. It has been conducting interviews to document the lives of forty five people who were either born with a disability; have suffered a sudden trauma or stroke, or been wounded through war or accident; or who have acquired a disability through a progressive medical condition. At the end of the project the results will be shared through a DVD, magazine and travelling exhibition, aimed both at the general public and schoolchildren.
The three villages featured in Michael Wood’s Story of England BBC TV series were awarded Heritage Lottery funding for a ‘Heritage Legacy Project’ through which volunteers have produced material for a series of heritage trails, interpretation panels and school study packs. The project includes memories recorded in audio and video, and these will also be featured in a new online Kibworth Archive alongside photographs and historical documents. See www.leicestershirevillages.com/kibworthbeauchamp. De Montfort Hall, a major music and entertainment centre in Leicester, has been appealing for memories of concerts and other events at the Hall to help celebrate its centenary in 2013. The Hall was designed by the local architect Shirley Harrison for the Corporation of Leicester, and completed at a cost of around £21,000. As well as hosting recitals by many distinguished organists, De Montfort Hall has been a regular venue for classical music concerts, pantomime and popular music including the Beatles and Rolling Stones in the 1960s.
The Highfields Association of Residents and Tenants (HART) in Leicester has published a book based on memories of living or working in the South Highfields area of the city, which has attracted migrants from many different cultures over the years. It was supported by funding from Near Neighbours, a project administered through the Church Urban Fund to encourage people from different faiths to get to know each other better and establish initiatives to improve local neighbourhoods. A project celebrating thirty years of the Centre for Classical Indian Dance (CICD) in Leicester was also completed in June 2012 with the launch of an exhibition and book. Entitled ‘Karman’ – the Sanskrit word for ‘works’, ‘deeds’ or ‘actions’ � the project was funded by the HLF. Volunteers recorded over fifty interviews with past and present students, dance teachers, arts administrators and others who have been involved with CICD since its foundation by Nilima Devi. Hundreds of students have studied at CICD over the years, some up to the level of a six year Diploma Course in Kathak.
The young people’s performance group Nani Hathi, based in Blaby, Leicestershire was been awarded �23,300 to uncover the ‘forgotten’ stories of soldiers from the 4th Indian Division who fought at the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy in 1944. The two year project will involve interviews with veterans who moved to Leicestershire after the war, or people in the Asian communities who have memories of fathers, uncles or other relatives who served there. Fifteen volunteers aged from fifteen to their early twenties are conducting the first interviews alongside research in archives at the Imperial War Museum, and it is hoped to involve a further forty volunteers over the course of the project. The Policy Research Centre at the Islamic Foundation at Markfield, Leicestershire is planning an oral history archive preserving the history of British Muslims. This aims to explore the process of settlement and experiences of the pioneering first generation who arrived in the UK from 1950-79. Volunteers have been recruited to make short films, conduct interviews in Arabic, Gujarati, Bangla, Urdu and Punjabi, edit video recordings, take photographs, and develop a website. The Policy Research Centre specialises in research, policy advice and training on issues related to British Muslims.
Here at the Local Studies section of Nottingham Central Library we continue to support local projects, mainly with advice. We also continue to receive copies of oral history from local Nottingham and Nottinghamshire projects for archiving and copies for the library’s collection where possible.
As to current projects, the Hyson Green ‘On the Flats’ project has now been completed and a book produced and launched in April 2012. The launch was at Nottingham City’s Hyson Green Library on Gregory Boulevard, close to where the ‘Flats’ were located.
The Children of the Croft project has been successful with its bid to the HLF and has now started. This is the history of the Family First at The Croft, Nottingham from 1966 to 1975, managed by Now Heritage. Now Heritage is a Community Interest company formed to carry out oral history projects by Barbara Reed, based in Nottingham and her daughter Emma Golby Kirk, who lives in Bristol and has previous experience in media and oral history work. The Croft, Nottingham, a large house in Alexandra Park could house eight women and their small children at any one time. The project aims to interview the early members of staff of the Family First at the Croft. They have asked to deposit the results of the project, particularly oral history recordings with the Local Studies library. A group of their volunteers have had a short tour of the Local Studies library and commenced with their research there.
A group of Fine Arts students are currently working on a project about the Old Market Square, hopefully to create an audio guide, which includes oral history recordings from the present and the past. But this is still in its infancy so exact ‘angle’ not yet finalised. It sounds as though it could be really interesting.
Another project beginning in August this year, is to record the thoughts and memories of residents of the Lenton flats which are due for demolition shortly. The Dunkirk and Lenton partnership are carrying out this project.