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.