Networking heritage in the East of England

Cambridgeshire Community Archive Network
Cambridgeshire Community Archive Network

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded grants totalling £530,000 for two archive projects that will totally open up the history of communities across Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

The schemes will set up networks of volunteer researchers across both counties who will unveil centuries of history provided by local people, and make their findings available through virtual archives that will be open to everyone to explore and even add to.

Robyn Llewellyn, Manager of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the East of England comments; “We are thrilled and very excited to help set up two projects that will reveal and record the history of local communities right across Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, for the benefit of everyone in those areas and beyond. People are passionate about their past, and local archive networks are an ideal way to delve into that history and keep it alive for future generations.”

Cambridgeshire Community Archive Network
Cambridgeshire County Council is celebrating after receiving £299,500 for its Community Archive Network, which will set up and link 40 local volunteer groups across the county, bringing its diverse local history together in one place for the first time.

By unveiling and uploading a wealth of reminiscences, records and documents to a virtual archive that will be available to everyone online, the scheme will enable local people to share their stories and recollections of the past with the widest possible audience. As well as playing an active role in recording and interpreting their heritage, the groups will be able to learn a range of new skills.

Three staff will be employed to set up and run the network, and there will be 40 community archive groups established in museums and community access points across the county. In addition to the online information, there will be exhibitions to encourage more people to learn about their past, plus artist’s workshops in local schools.

Cambridgeshire County Council’s Head of Libraries, Archive and Information Service, Lesley Noblett, said: “The Cambridgeshire Community Archives Network offers local communities a means of gathering and preserving a rich, diverse and easily lost source of social and cultural heritage – local photographs and documents and the memories they stimulate – and making them available across the whole world, as well as making sure their local communities can make full use of our county collections of archives and local books and photographs.

“I am delighted that the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund has enabled us to create this important new collection.”

Archiving Rural Community Heritage, Norfolk
HLF has given a grant of £230,000 to Norfolk County Council to create a network of community archive groups based at 12 libraries in market towns including Kings Lynn, Great Yarmouth and Downham Market.

Groups in each location will be run by volunteers who will be trained by Norfolk Adult Education to collect and record stories of local life contributed by members of the public. A digitised multi-media archive with voice recordings, photographs and video clips will store memories which will be available to everyone via the internet, as well as being put onto CD, in order to share and open up Norfolk’s past to as many people as possible.

Archive groups will research and add information to each record to explain its significance and members of the public will be able to search by areas of interest, for example the history of a particular building or family.

A range of creative activities such as making collages, maps and booklets, and even staging plays will complement the archive, enabling people of all abilities and skills to take part. Many of these will help school children and older people to work together, forming new relationships between the generations and revitalising the community.

John Gretton, Cabinet Member for Cultural Services, Norfolk County Council comments; “We are delighted to have been successful with our bid. Local history research is always a popular activity in market towns, and is most effective when conducted by people who really understand the community and the families who have created it over the centuries. The completed work will be a real boost to our archival holdings in local libraries”.

The network will be based in libraries in the following towns; Attleborough, Dereham, Downham market, Great Yarmouth, Harleston, Holt, Hunstanton, Kings Lynn, North Walsham, Stalham, Watton and Wymondham. The Bridewell Museum in Norwich is also involved, inviting community groups to share their memories of the city.

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