BBC Doomsday Reloaded: Stifford Clays

IN 1986, the BBC invited people to write down what was happening in their area

The whole of the UK – including the Channel Islands and Isle of Man – was divided into 23,000 4x3km areas called Domesday Squares or “D-Blocks”.

Schools and community groups surveyed over 108,000 square km of the UK and submitted more than 147,819 pages of text articles and 23,225 amateur photos, cataloguing what it was like to live, work and play in their community.

This was about documenting everyday life – the ordinary rather than the extraordinary.

The project used the cutting edge technology of the day, and the data was eventually presented on a special type of Laser-Disc, read by a BBC master computer and navigated using an innovative tracker-ball pointing system.

But the technology didn’t catch on and the computers became very expensive for schools and libraries to buy. Very few people ever got to see the fruits of all of their hard work.

As time went on there were fears that the discs would become unreadable, as computers capable of reading the format had become rare and drives capable of accessing the discs even rarer.

Now 25 years later in our age of the world wide web, digital photography, email and social networking, its time to have a look at those entries again, to bring the project up to date, and perhaps to lay down another layer of local history.

Here you can rediscover and explore images and articles from the original project to find out how life in Britain has changed… and how some things have stayed the same.

Now and again, YourThurrock will be dipping into the archive to see what people were saying about Thurrock.

Smallcombe Ltd,Newsagents.

This shop,delievers newspapers to 49 different streets in the Stifford Clays area.The papers arrive at 6 a.m and the paper boys start an hour later.There are 18 different rounds to be made.In a survey made outside the shop it was found that the majority of customers preferred having their papers delivered.

There is a slight variation in the price of newspapers.The”Telegraph” costs 23p,the”Express” and “Mail” are 20p,while the “Sun” and “Mirror” are 18p.

Susan’s Hairdresser.

This has been a hairdresser’s shop for the last 25 years.Most of the customers are ladies,though gentlemen and children use the shop.Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the busiest days with the “wave and curl” most popular.

Miss Dean

Miss Dean first came to North Stifford because she became employed at the Thurrock Tecnical College.She came looking for a house in 1962.She bought ‘Viola Cottage’for £4,500.Before it was a cottage it was a pub named ‘The Bell’ because of the church bells opposite.Then it was called ‘The Oak’ because of the Oak tree in her garden. Miss Dean wrote the book called the ‘Stifford Saga’ which told the history of North Stifford and the surrounding area. It started off with a competition for the Women’s Institute,to see who could get their village on the map. She won first prize for the Mar Dyke Women’s Institute.

There was so much information to put in it that they made a book. They sold 1,400 copies.The Duke of Edinborough (sic) accepted a copy.

Matthew Tucker and Vivienne Clark.

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