Celebrating the spoken history of the Dark Peak moors

11 June 2012
Peak District National Park wardens rescuing sheep in the winter of 1955.

An audio archive recording the voices and memories of people who lived and worked on or visited the Peak District moors is now available to view at two local towns.

The Moor Memories oral history project has spent two years collecting stories of moorland life in the Peak District from residents, farmers, gamekeepers, ramblers and local history groups.

The material has been gathered together to create the Moor Memories archive. It can be viewed for free at Derbyshire Record Office in Matlock and at Holmfirth Library and Information Centre.

The archive consists of 40 hours of audio on CDs, including 46 interviews with more than 60 individuals. There are full transcriptions and summaries of all the interviews, plus information booklets, photos, videos. There is also information about moorland walks.

Julia Shergold, Moor Memories project officer, said: “The Moor Memories archive is a wonderful collection of people’s real stories about life on the Peak District’s Derbyshire moorlands.

“All kinds of memories have come to light, from how gamekeepers used to hand-scythe bracken on the moors, to the time Shep, the Blue Peter dog, got lost on Bleaklow. These memories would have disappeared if we had not recorded them.

“We would like to say a huge ‘Thank You’ to all the volunteers, interviewees and supporters who have shared their stories and made the archive possible. Their input has helped form a unique record that is accessible for future generations.”

The archive is a treasure trove of information for residents, walkers, researchers, students and visitors. Already, a set of family photos taken from the 1970s onwards, at Black Hill trig point, have been useful to moorland managers restoring the moors, as they show how the peat has eroded over time.

Ann Price, of Hope Historical Society, said: “We have enjoyed being part of this interesting and valuable project. We are very pleased with the results and with the encouragement we received. It has given us the skills to develop our own oral history and we have begun to make independent recordings of local people’s memories. ”

Gordon Miller, of the Edale Society, said: “The Moor Memories archive is a great addition to our archives and I would like to use it to inspire more people to contribute to our sound archive in the future.”

A Moor Memories exhibition, showcasing audio clips from the archive and free booklets, will be at Edale Country Day on Sunday June 17, from 10.30am to 5.00pm, on Edale Playing Field.

A selection of audio clips and videos, including famers, gamekeepers, walkers and rangers, and information to download, including moorland walks, are available from www.moorsforthefuture.org.uk/moor-memories
The full archive is available for public viewing at:

Derbyshire Record Office in Matlock, reference D7534 – 01629 538347, record.ofice@derbyshire.gov.uk
Holmfirth Library and Information Centre – 01484 222430, holmfirth.lic@kirklees.gov.uk

The Moor Memories project is funded by: The Heritage Lottery Fund, the Peak District National Park Authority, English Heritage, East Peak Innovation Partnership, South Pennine LEADER, the National Trust, United Utilities and the Sheffield Ramblers.

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