Sound Stories – A Personal Journey Through the Archives

I was seconded to the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project as a cataloguer during the projects final three months. During my time with the team I catalogued 7 collections of recordings. What follows is a brief look at some of my favourite clips and some of the things I learned from the work that I have done. 

Jewish Museum 

I started my work with a collection of recordings made in the 1970’s of interviews with members of the Jewish community in Manchester. The Jewish Museum is on Cheetham Hill Road, and it so happens that I lived there prior to beginning this work, so I was aware of many of the references and locations. What struck me was how much change has taken place in the area. The following clip from an interview with Rabbi Silverstone describes a grocery shop and Jewish shop on the corner of Cheetham Hill Road and Lord Street, an area I know well. Neither of these things exists now, it’s a car dealership, and there are now no building other than flats in Fernie street.  

Cheetham, Verdon Street to Fernie Street from Scotland (facing south) 1966 (m16989)

Rabbi Silverstone (UAP016)


From here we travel to Stockport and Adlington, a farming community. I grew up in a rural town in Somerset but I have lived in the city for most of my adult life. Listening to this gentleman talking eloquently about the rural communities around Stockport I was reminded of my own childhood and what I understood about the country life. In this clip the country man is described, the interviewer goes so far as to describe him as a peasant, but the interviewee reminds us of the power these people had over themselves, the natural world and outsiders.  

The Country Man (STOCK102)


In this clip Noe Noe the clown describes running away from home to join the circus and find his own fortune. He is passionate about what he does and what he believes in and he took it on himself to make it work. He goes on to talk about the elephants and the treatment of animals in the circus and how they were transported by trains after walking to the station from the tower in Blackpool  

Noe Noe The Clown (OH-2060)


I grew up on an estate, so the following clip from the Liverpool collection really resonated for me. Alan Bleasedale laments the fate of so many talented individuals who were unable to fully realise their potential because of their upbringing and environment. 

Alan Bleasedale (791-BBC-2-58)


In the town that I grew up in there were certain folk I remember as they are remembered in the following clip, people who everyone knows from their community and who are often derided and loved in equal measure. The people in this clip are familiar in many ways to us all, and we are reminded that, as part of our communities it is up to us to look out for them as much as anyone else, to ask the question ‘who is there for these people?’.  

The People of Carlisle (DBBC-1-1-7709-16)


This collection of council committee meetings seemed very dry and dull from the outset, but I discovered that in some instances there are people who just know how to tell a good story. It so happened that whilst I was listening to these recorded speeches I was writing a best man speech. I came across a toast to the new mayor of Workington and in it I found a unique public speaking voice. The following clip inspired me to go with the comedy, the story he tells is brilliantly delivered and very funny indeed.  

Mayoral Inaugaration Toast (SHBWO-12-8-25)

The Royal Albert Hospital 

This was the second collection that I worked on and the last I come to here. A collection of recordings made with former residents of the Royal Albert, often revealing the dark past that institutions like this went through during the middle part of the 20th century. Often times the lives of the residents was difficult and confrontational. However, what I found in the recordings was a sense of humour that helped people deal with difficult surroundings. This final clip is a collections of songs the residents used to sing at the Albert and a little harmonica playing Ken. Take it away…. 

Royal Albert Singing Compilation (UAP032)

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