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Once upon a time, I thought that a Witham website could contain everything that I wanted it to. But of course it can’t. I am still surrounded by loads of files and papers, which could be really interesting on the website. But I shall never have the time to put them there. So let me explain that I am leaving all my stuff about the history of Witham to the Essex Record Office, where you should be able to see it when I’m gone, if you make the right arrangements. As well as the files I mentioned, there are boxes of photos. Also a large card index to people and places, which I don’t add to now, but I still find very useful

SEARCHING THE WEBSITE

To find a word (or phrase), first type it into the Search box at the top right of this or any page. Then click Go or the magnifying glass. That will produce all the relevant posts, one after the other.

Then to find the actual appearance(s) of the word or phrase, use Ctrl+F, or the equivalent for your system (Cmd+F for Macs). That will enable you to fill in what you want again, probably at the bottom of the page.

I did also begin working on a sort of index or list of tags (accessible by clicking tags at the top right of the page), but this is not really far enough advanced to be very helpful. It does include the names of all the interviewees, but I only produced what I would call a full list of tags for Tapes 1 and 2. I shall have to leave it at that for now, in order to do other work.


THE CATEGORIES are described below.
You can choose one of them by clicking it at the top of this or any page, and then choosing what you want from the list.

(1) ARTICLES IN THE BRAINTREE AND WITHAM TIMES:
I started writing these articles in 2010 and  have stopped in 2018, at least for the time being. them. The most recent one was usually put into this WordPress collection a month or two after it appeared in the newspaper.

At the beginning I was restricted to about 400 words each, with a photo. Later I had more space. I’ve stopped writing the articles now, because of pressure of time.

The subject matter was mine to choose. Sometimes I tried to make it topical. I am always amazed how many more subjects there were left.

I seem to have concentrated on the last few hundred years, because that is where I feel most at home. In particular, I have often written about the 20th century. This has enabled me to quote from the memories of some wonderful Witham people, whom I shall discuss below.

(2) INTERVIEWS WITH WITHAM RESIDENTS:
In 1976 I had been collecting information about the history of Witham for nearly ten years. I had this niggling feeling that I ought also to be collecting the reminiscences of Witham residents. But it did sound rather complicated. Essex University was a well-known centre for “oral history”, so I phoned there for advice and spoke to Alun Howkins (later a Professor). He said he always told people just to go out and get on with it. So that’s what I did – no more excuses.

It was indeed complicated and I made lots of mistakes. However, I think the people that I met managed to rise above my incompetence, and to speak eloquently about a world which has now long gone. Whenever I happen now to re-read what someone told me, I am always impressed by how articulate and moving many of their words were.

The interviews were recorded onto cassette tapes and then transcribed by myself, Tina Bailey, Jean Bentley, Karen Potter and Ruth Silverlock. An arduous task for which everyone’s assistance was most invaluable and for which I was very grateful.

The tapes are numbered in order of the date on which they were recorded. If we used two tapes on one day, they will have consecutive numbers. If I revisited the same people another day, the numbers of their tapes wouldn’t be consecutive if someone else came in between. To find them by name use the Search box, the list of tags, or the list of tapes produced by clicking Interviews at the top right of the page.

I did not have a questionnaire or a structure. We tried to concentrate on what the person was interested in. So you’ll need to search for subjects or places or other people separately if that what you’re looking for.

The recording equipment was primitive by today’s standards; I never even got round to clip-on mikes. What with that, quiet voices, a canary, etc, some of the recordings are not very clear. Anyway, they are held at the Essex Sound and Video Archive. To listen to any of them, please contact them at ero.enquiry@essex.gov.uk or 033301 32500.

(3) LECTURES:
While I was taping reminiscences, from time to time I recorded a lecture or a talk about local history, not always about Witham. I have put these in their own category, found under Sections at top right of the page, in date order. Not many have been transcribed,  but the original recordings are held at the Essex Sound and Video Archive. To listen to a recording, please contact them at ero.enquiry@essex.gov.uk or 033301 32500. Some of the recordings are not of very good quality, having been made at a distance in a variety of halls.

(4) PEOPLE:
Assorted information about people and families, including most of those included in the interviews. Arranged in surname order. List found by clicking People at the top right of the page.

(5) PLACES
Information relating to Places of every sort, found at top right.


ALSO SEE:

http://www.gyford.com/janet/  
for my witham books. Especially:

http://www.gyford.com/janet/books/history-witham/
to get the full text of “A History of Witham”

http://www.historyhouse.co.uk/placeW/essexw30.html
for Witham’s pages on “History House”, which have a good collection
of factual information, and suggestions where to find more.