We have supplied three listening posts full of oral history clips as part of the Bedford River Valley Park project. Three wind-up audio players tell recent stories of the landscape before it became the country park.
The clips range in subject from the flower and vegetable nurseries of Willington village to the manufacture of the R101 airship and Second World War barrage balloons at Cardington Sheds. They also take in Willington railway station, matchstick planations, gravel quarrying and the archaeological excavations associated with the quarries.
Visitors to the park can choose a story and wind the handle to hear voices from the park’s varied past.
We trained staff of Marston Vale Trust in oral history techniques, which they cascaded down to volunteers who recorded various people. We also identified oral history interviews in Bedford and Luton Archives. We edited the recordings into short clips for the listening posts and worked with Blackbox-av who supplied the hardware.
We chose the listening posts as the on-site medium based on our success with these in other places, such as Hardwick Hall and the Monsal Trail. We have found these receive much higher use than delivering oral history through mobile phone apps.