Potteries Heritage Society is to receive a grant of £51,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, “Revealing Voices: North Staffordshire”. Supported thanks to National Lottery players, the project focuses on saving a unique collection of tape recordings made in the 1970s and 80s by former radio producer, jazz musician and canals enthusiast, Arthur Wood. The project will digitise and make available hundreds of archive recordings of local people talking about local topics, with a series of events based on the recordings, culminating in an exhibition in 2018.
The project will enable local people to be involved in rediscovering the content of these historic recordings. People will have the chance to be the first to listen to and catalogue the recordings, and to help share them with North Staffordshire communities over the next 2 years. Potteries Heritage Society will work with a team of partners – Staffordshire & Stoke-on-Trent Archives Service, the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, and Staffordshire University – to train volunteers, host events and offer work experience opportunities. Local community and arts groups will help run workshops and events for schools and interest groups.
The recordings were originally made for broadcast on BBC Radio Stoke, where Arthur Wood was education producer in the 1970s and 80s. They need to be digitised now because the original reel-to- reel tapes are likely to deteriorate beyond rescue within the next few years so their content is in danger of being lost forever. The collection includes local history, oral history, schools broadcasts, programmes on industrial heritage, canals, railways, dialect, and many other topics of local interest.
On receiving the award, Chair of Potteries Heritage Society David Williams said: “We are excited to have the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund to help preserve and share this fascinating archive. We expect the Revealing Voices project to provide an invaluable insight into the lives of past generations, drawing attention to our rich cultural heritage and helping us all to understand, protect and promote the unique character of North Staffordshire.”
Explaining the importance of the HLF support, the head of the HLF in the West Midlands, Vanessa Harbar, said: “We are delighted that, thanks to National Lottery players, we are able to support this fascinating project. It is great that this fantastic collection will be preserved for future generations to enjoy, and we are particularly pleased that people will have had an opportunity to explore a significant part of their local heritage.”
See the Revealing Voices page for more information and details of how to get involved.