V E R Y M A N Y T H A N K S T O P H I L G Y F O R D
F O R H I S H E L P W I T H T R A N S L A T I N G
E V E R Y T H I N G I N T O W O R D P R E S S
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(1) ARTICLES IN THE BRAINTREE AND WITHAM TIMES:
I started writing these articles in 2010 and am still doing them. The most recent one is usually put into this WordPress collection a month or two after it appears in the newspaper.
At the beginning I was restricted to about 400 words each, with a photo. Recently I have had more space. The subject matter has been mine to choose. Sometimes I try and make it topical. I am always amazed how many more subjects there are left.
I seem to have concentrated on the last few hundred years, because that is where I feel most at home. In particular, I have often written about the 20th century. This has enabled me to quote from the memories of some wonderful Witham people, whom I shall discuss in the next section.
(2) INTERVIEWS WITH WITHAM RESIDENTS:
In 1976 I had been collecting information about the history of Witham for nearly ten years. I had this niggling feeling that I ought also to be collecting the reminiscences of Witham residents. But it did sound rather complicated. Essex University was a well-known centre for “oral history”, so I phoned there for advice and spoke to Alun Howkins (now a Professor). He said he always told people just to go out and get on with it. So that’s what I did – no more excuses.
It was indeed complicated and I made lots of mistakes. However, the people that I met managed to rise above my incompetence, and to speak eloquently about a world which has now long gone. Whenever I happen now to re-read what someone told me, I am always impressed by how articulate and moving many of their words were.
The interviews were recorded onto cassette tapes and then transcribed by myself, Tina Bailey, Jean Bentley, Karen Potter and Ruth Silverlock. An arduous task for which everyone’s assistance was most invaluable.
The tapes are numbered according to the date on which they were recorded. If we used two tapes on one day, they will have consecutive numbers. If I revisited the same people another day, the numbers of their tapes may not be consecutive if someone else came in between. The Search box should help find them.
I did not have a questionnaire or a structure. We tried to concentrate on what the person was interested in. So you’ll need to search for subjects if that what you’re looking for.
The recording equipment was primitive by today’s standards; I never even got round to clip-on mikes. What with that, quiet voices, a canary, etc, some of the recordings are not very clear. Anyway, they are held at the Essex Sound and Video Archive. To listen to any of them, please contact them at email@example.com or 033301 32500.
While I was taping reminiscences, from time to time I recorded a lecture or a talk about local history, not always about Witham. I have put these in their own category, in date order. Not many have been transcribed, but the original recordings are held at the Essex Sound and Video Archive. To listen to a recording, please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or 033301 32500. Some of the recordings are not of very good quality, having been made at a distance in a variety of halls.
Assorted information about people and families, including some of the ones included in the interviews. Arranged in surname order.
E.g. old street renumbering schemes, old lists of shops.
for my witham books. Especially:
to get the full text of “A History of Witham”
for Witham’s pages on “History House”, which have a good collection
of factual information, and suggestions where to find more.