oral history

Bishop's Waltham Museum has an active team of oral historians working as part of our volunteer team. They have interviewed for three  projects, providing a rich source of contemporary detail to our temporary exhibitions.

The memories are full of fascinating details and stories concerning anything local. Summaries are worth checking if you are a researcher on any aspect of social history from the mid-1930s on.

Collection 1: D-Day 70: Bishop’s Waltham Remembered

During 2014 the oral history team interviewed 38 older people who were living in and around Bishop's Waltham in 1944. The transcribed recordings and findings were used to illustrate the D-Day 70th Anniversary Exhibition. 

We found that wartime made little change to our rural children's lives, in contrast with their urban peers who contended with the Blitz, evacuation and food rationing. Our youngsters accepted wartime privations and were excited by events, rather than feeling fear or sadness as adults did. They witnessed relatively few bombs exploding or planes crashing; air attacks on Portsmouth or Southampton were viewed from a distance. Interviewees spoke of the build-up of troops and equipment in the days leading up to D-Day and of the prisoners of war billeted in the locality. We heard how evacuees were welcomed and food rations stretched with homegrown vegetables and wild rabbit. 

Collection 2: The Great Pond, the Abbey Mill and James Duke & Son Ltd in the 20th Century

We then moved on to investigating memories of the Great Pond, the Abbey Mill and James Duke & Son Ltd, who were major employers in the town in the second half of the 20th century. The 2016 exhibition of the same name drew heavily on this material.

Collection 3: Time of Change: Bishop’s Waltham in the 1950s to the 1970s

The current project looks at everyday life in the 1950s, 60s and 70s for a Time of Change exhibition planned for 2020. What was it like for youngsters, as Bishop’s Waltham changed from a very small town where everyone knew each other, to a larger town full of newcomers? We have a wealth of detail coming through about farms, schools, homes and children’s lives as the 2nd World War became history and the modern age of cars, plastics and pop music began.


More Information

Find out more from the Oral History catalogue by clicking the image to the left.  Full transcripts and the recordings are available for most of the oral histories.


For details on how to order, please see the catalogue or email bishopswalthammuseum@gmail.com


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Museum: 2nd May 2020 - 27th September 2020: Open weekends and bank holidays 12 - 4pm

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