Land of the Fanns call for oral history recorders

HISTORY is happening all around all the time. There will come a time when today and tomorrow are history and the way of life of the early 21st century in the Land of the Fanns is looked back upon with interest and wonder as today we look back upon the early 19th century. The changes that have occurred in the past 50 years or the last 100 years are remarkable and have affected the ordinary lives of many men and women across the area. It is these changes, the memories of past times, that the Land of the Fanns are keen to record and preserve so they are not forgotten.

The Land of the Fanns is seeking volunteers to join its Oral History team. The team collects the memories of people who live in the area, by talking to them about their lives.  Those who have lived and worked in a place for a long time have fascinating recollections, many dating from a time before technology and transport had changed society. By recording local people talking about their own experiences and their lives in the Land of the Fanns, these memories are captured for posterity and are a significant social history of the place.

To train as an oral history recorder, no specialist background or skills are required. All that is necessary is an enthusiasm for talking to people and the ability to listen carefully. Full training in interview techniques and using the recording equipment is given. The equipment is a very easy to use digital recorder and the interviewers always work in pairs with one person talking to the interviewee and one person recording. Interviews are conducted in a covid-secure manner. The training run by volunteer Patti Plested. The memories captured can be fascinating, unique and very moving. Once recorded the histories will be passed to the British Library where they will form an important record of the lives of ordinary people in the Land of the Fanns in the 20th and 21st centuries

Benjamin Sanderson, Land of the Fanns Scheme Manager said “Oral histories are a fantastic resource. They can help bring to life the history of a place which has many applications when it comes to interpreting the landscape. It’s thanks to Patti that she has leant us her expertise in being able to train up local volunteers to help record these histories which will be available for future generations.”

Anyone interested in learning more about becoming an oral history interviewer should contact Mrs. Patricia Plested on 01708 474106 or 07948 533999.  Or email her at  pplested@hotmail.co.uk. Alternatively, contact the Land of the Fanns at landofthefanns@thameschase.org.uk

The Land of the Fanns covers a diverse area of 185 square kilometres from east London to south west London. From it come stories of lost ways of life, of industries changed beyond recognition, of agricultural practices forgotten and events in the landscape that have shaped local life and personal histories. Without the valuable work of the oral history volunteers recording the lives and memories of local people, this history will be lost.

Thames Chase Trust, who manage the Thames Chase Community Forest, is the lead partner and legacy body for the Scheme as it comes to a conclusion in 2022. Other partners are: Thames21, Essex County Council, Forestry England, Thames Estuary Partnership, Brentwood Borough Council, London Borough of Havering, London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, and Thurrock Council. These partners have a shared goal of enabling local people to discover, restore and enjoy what’s special about the local landscape.

To find out more about the Land of the Fanns, please go to www.landofthefanns.org. Information about the Thames Chase Community Forest can be found at www.thameschase.org.uk

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