Wigton Salvation army band.

The Project

Cumbria Speaks is a new oral history project run by Free 4 All Community Recycling Ltd and is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Cumbria County Council and Wigton Town Council.

Entitled Cumbria Speaks, the project began life under the title – North West Cumbria Oral History Project. The project is to run for two years and has three parts.

The focus of this project is to preserve as many aspects of Wigton’s rich history as possible. We are interested on documenting the changes people saw and experienced from their own points of view.

Firstly, we will gather a collection of twenty well-structured oral history interviews that record the lives of Wigton residents since 1945. We will ask some of the eldest members of the community as well as people who were born in the 1930’s onward. Our aim is to learn about how life was for them growing up in Wigton and how culture and community have evolved. Broadly, we’ll cover – family life, school days and working life, retirement and the present day. The idea is to preserve living memory and the people’s experiences.

The Cumbria Speaks project will transcribe all the interviews. Both the interviews and the transcriptions will be made freely available. For the time being, the home of all this material is a designated website cumbriaspeaks.org.uk In the future, the collection is also to be stored at the Carlisle Archive Centre and with the Ambleside Oral History Group. At some point we hope to have a location where people can come and listen to the interviews in sound bundle form or as full interviews, or browse the transcriptions.

In order that the material, be useful for research purposes – this include research carried out by young people, schools, history groups, writers and others, All recordings will be processed to archival quality standards.

The second part of our project is to produce a heritage book for 10 -12 year olds. In this case primary school children, using extracts of interviews. With the help of interviewees, volunteers and the children themselves, the teams will choose interesting, relevant extracts from the collected interviews. These extracts will be written up and edited to UK education standard measures, then made into an illustrated book for year 6 (age 10-11) children. Wigton primary school children will illustrate the stories and the children’s book will be freely available in all Cumbrian libraries and in local schools.

The final part of what we hope will be an initial project in Cumbria, is an exhibition in Wigton that will include presentations, sound bundles, photographs of interviewees, images of Wigton and the launch of the children’s heritage book.

An addition to the project approved by Heritage Lottery Fund we have now begun to add 8-minute talks. These are short lectures which explore particular aspects of the town, its people and heritage. Our first talk is on Charles Dicken’s visit to Wigton, and our second, soon to go up on the website, is a talk on the philanthropist, George Moore. We hope to add many more as part of our oral history collection.

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