Listening Desk arrives at Central Library

We are excited to announce a new arrival at Central Library – a brand new listening desk! You can’t really miss it.

Woman sitting at the Listening Desk at Archives+: a red sculpture desk with a big red horn speaker and a screen.
Installer Theresa Smith plays on the Listening Desk. Image by its creator, Emily Peasgood, 9 February 2023.

Listening Desk is an interactive sound sculpture that invites people to listen to recordings from sound archives and get creative with them by making their own soundscapes. It is inspired by historic listening devices and instruments.

Three children and a toy sit at the Listening Desk at Archives+
Children playing on Emily Peasgood’s Listening Desk. Image by Jennifer Peasgood, 9 February 2023.

The Listening Desks were created by Emily Peasgood Studio in collaboration with The British Library and eight partner institutions across the UK and is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Our listening desk features recordings from around the North West region that have been preserved by the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project. You can play short sound clips and mix them together into you own soundscape.

Here are some of the twenty sound clips you can play with on the desk. Have fun mixing!

Sounds from the Monks Hall steel plant in Warrington, recorded a few months before it closed, recorded by North West Sound Archive founder Ken Howarth (SOUNDS/87-88).

Dave Molyneux talks about what it was like to return home to Liverpool as a merchant seaman on the Blue Funnel line in the 1950s and 1960s, from the Merseyside Maritime Museum’s Blue Funnel to China collection. You can listen to Dave Molyneux’s full interview about his career as a steward (SA/1/2) at The British Library Sounds website.

A man who plays Punch in a travelling children’s Punch and Judy Show shows off some of his Manchester content. From a Voice in the Crowd interview broadcast on BBC Radio Manchester in 1973 (RMAN/1084) – you can listen to the whole Punch & Judy radio show on The British Library Sounds website. Copyright BBC Radio Manchester.

Memories of childhood holidays spent on Blackpool beach. This extract come from the Burley Talks collection at Lancashire Archives (1998.0141). You can listen to the full interview with Jenny Dawes and friends on The British Library Sounds website.

1Hz pulses from the Sputnik 1 satellite, captured by the Radio Telescope at Jodrell Bank. This extract comes from a recording held by the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre (JB/6).

The sound of a ship crashing through waves in a storm. This extract was used in the documentary ‘The Cumbrian Coastguard Service’ broadcast on BBC Radio Cumbria in 1975. You can listen to this show at Carlisle Archive Service (D/BBC/1/1/7501/21). Copyright BBC Radio Cumbria.

Some of these interviews and radio shows have been published in full at The British Library Sounds website.

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