Unlocking Our Sound Heritage is an ambitious partnership project led by the British Library and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Sounds held on physical formats like cassette and open reel risk being lost as the carriers degrade over time and the equipment to play them is no longer produced. The project aims to preserve and transform access to the nation’s sound heritage.

Archives+ at Manchester Central Library is the hub partner for the North West region, which covers Cumbria, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside. The hub will digitise around 15,000 recordings on 5,000 cassette and open reels held all over the North West.

The collections we have digitised are:

The British Library has archived the digital files and will provide access to a proportion of them online from 2023. We have created a sustainable centre of excellence in digital audio preservation at Manchester Central Library, recruited volunteers and involved new audiences in audio heritage in innovative ways.