Catherine Pond tells us about her volunteer work at Bishopsgate Institute, collecting the memories of long-term residents.
Bishopsgate Institute, located in Spitalfields, has been open for courses, events and the use of its historic library and archive since 1895. In that time it has gained a considerable reputation as a hub of learning and culture, along with a strong connection to its surrounding community.
The latest initiative to build on its local roots is the newly relaunched Bishopsgate Voices project. Run by a small team of volunteers and Institute staff, Bishopsgate Voices aims to collect, record and archive the memories of long-term residents of the East End, providing a valuable resource for the future.
I am one of these volunteers and have been with the project for about three months so far, working mainly on interviewing people who have kindly agreed to have their memories of East End life recorded for posterity. The time I’ve spent with the project has been both fun and rewarding, as we have a lively and dedicated team of volunteers and excellent support from the staff. In addition it has provided a wonderful outlet for indulging my enthusiasm for London’s history, especially as I know that we’re doing something worthwhile and lasting. We’ve already collected a number of hugely interesting stories from our interviewees, but can only look forward to hearing the many more that must be out there.
In featuring on Londonist we’re not only hoping to introduce you to the Institute and the project itself, but also to attract some more interviewees. If you or a relative or friend have ever lived or worked in the East End and would be happy to share your memories with the Institute then we would be delighted to hear from you. It doesn’t matter which area you lived in, for how long, what jobs or education you undertook – everything is useful for the archive!
Interviews are normally conducted at the Institute building on Bishopsgate on Friday afternoons but times and locations of interviews are also flexible. To get in touch you can email our co-ordinator Megan Dowsett (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call on 02073929200.
Further information about the project can also be found on the Institute website.