We're undertaking a major oral history project to capture people’s personal stories and memories of the canals and rivers and record them for posterity in the national waterway archive.
There are so many people out there with fascinating stories to tell, it’s extremely exciting to now be able to capture these and have them in our national archive for people to enjoy. Tony Hales
We want people to come forward and share their recollections of the waterways, which will then be archived to keep the story of the waterways alive for generations to come.
Debbie Lumb, head of museums and attractions, says: “It’s a decade since such a project was undertaken, and it was not to this scale. As the guardian of the nation’s waterways and of the national waterway archive we have a responsibility to collect these stories for future historians and students. More important than that, recent generations have lived through some of the most remarkable periods in the waterways history and it would be a tragedy if these stories were lost.
“‘Whether you were involved in the Droitwich restoration, fought in the Battle of Stourbridge, have legged through Standedge Tunnel or were one of the last people to practice commercial horseboating, we would love to hear from you. Please come forward and share with us the role the canals have played in your life.”
We'll also be holding a series of story recording sessions throughout the year at our five museums and attractions. There will be a sound booth and trained volunteers ready and waiting to capture people’s stories at these events.
A team of 15 volunteers has also been specially trained with mobile recording equipment and will travel to meet anyone with an interesting story to tell in order to record their memories for the purpose of archiving them. You can request a visit from one of the oral history volunteers or suggest an interviewee by completing an online form. Written memories and photos can also be uploaded to the website.
Tony Hales, chairman of the Canal & River Trust, said: ”There are so many people out there with fascinating stories to tell, it’s extremely exciting to now be able to capture these and have them in our national archive for people to enjoy. Having a team of trained volunteers ready to record people’s memories means that the stories will really be brought to life in a way that hasn’t been done before and will keep them alive for many years to come.”