'Hear here': Unearth London's history -- with your cellphone

It’s like a do-it-yourself audio tour. Call in, get the story.

UnearthingLondon’s history, and the tales behind it, could soon be as easy as aquick phone call - writes MEGAN STACEY in lfpress.com

All it takes is a cellphone to tap into theHear, Here network soonto be built in London, a program thatlinksbite-size audio clips to historical and cultural sites around the city.

“A lot of people say ‘history is boring,’ but I think they’re looking at it the wrong way. It’s about stories,” said Michelle Hamilton, a public history professor at Western University.

“And people are also very interested in where they live.”

Western University students and researchers are partnering with the city to create the program, starting with a pilot in the St. George-Grosvenor-Piccadilly neighbourhood this summer, and expanding to SoHo next year.

A Hear, Here sign lets visitors know they can tap into a do-it-yourself audio tour and hear stories of London’s historical and cultural sites – like this one outside the Sir Adam Beck estate at Richmond and Sydenham streets – just by calling a phone number. (MARK TOVEY photo)

Hear, Here signs will be put up near monuments, buildings or landmarks and offer a phone number to tap into the audio clip.

Hamilton hopes the program eventually will boast a website, like the award-winning effort it’s based on in Wisconsin. People from 48 states have called to hear the stories associated with dozens of sites in La Crosse, Wis., Hamilton said.

“This is a really neat idea and we want to try something new,” said Robin Armistead, the city’s manager of culture. “It’s our first foray into this.”

A different kind of history — women’s history or African-Canadian history or Jewish history or working-class history — it’s not well known in London.

Michelle Hamilton

It’s a form of “cultural interpretation,” she said, essentially history told through mini-podcasts. Those audio clips give a sense of context about a neighbourhood, using personal anecdotes that engage people, Armistead said.

The first two phases of the project, about 30 cultural sites, come with a $14,000 price tag that can be covered by the culture office, according to a staff report.

Mark Tovey, a post-doctoral fellow in public history at Western University who’s been working with the city’s culture office, has collected interviews for the first 10 sites, including the Sir Adam Beck estate at Sydenham and Richmond streets and the former Murray-Selby shoe factory at Piccadilly and Richmond streets. Tovey grew up in the neighbourhood and knew much of its history already.

“Asking people to tell me stories about the neighbourhood seemed like the next logical step,” he said.

The master’s students Hamilton oversees will learn to collect oral history as they research important landmarks in the SoHo area in the fall. The goal is to tell the stories of marginalized groups and Londoners who aren’t part of the history textbooks, Hamilton said.

Sites such as Richard Berry Harrison Park, named after a famous actor whose parents fled to London as escaped slaves, are a good example.

“A different kind of history — women’s history or African-Canadian history or Jewish history or working-class history — it’s not well known in London,” Hamilton said.

For Tovey, the oral history projects also are a way to bring communities together.

“I love the idea that you could increase neighbourhood cohesion by gathering up stories and finding ways of giving them back to people,” he said. “Imagine filling neighbourhoods everywhere with stories. Once you know the stories of a place, a simple stroll becomes a journey for the imagination.”

Read more news of London on our site.

lfpress.com
London’shistory stories
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
1 view in november
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Society
Police have launched a manhunt after religious idols and Diwali donations were stolen from two north London temples in early morning raids. The Met said the early morning burglaries were being treated as linked and released a CCTV image of a hooded suspect on Saturday. Officers also urged faith leaders to be vigilant against future incidents. The first happened at the Shree Swaminarayan Temple in Willesden Lane, Brent, on November 9. While the priests were...
Society
Rail commuters have been told not to attempt to travel into London Waterloo after engineering works overran. South Western Railway (SWR) passengers using the route into London Waterloo from Surbiton were warned not to travel on Monday morning. Disruption is expected to last for the entire day and the Network Rail engineering works will not be finished until 8.39am at the earliest.  The rail operator said Woking, Surbiton, Raynes Park and Earlsfield station...
Society
Some 82 people have been arrested after hundreds of protesters gathered in central London in attempts to block five bridges on Saturday, as they demanded the Government take greater action on climate change. The group Extinction Rebellion encouraged people to perform a sit-in across Southwark, Blackfriars, Waterloo, Westminster and Lambeth bridges on following a co-ordinated week of action around the UK. Following their closures, all bridges have now reope...
Society
Almost one million crimes of fly-tipping were reported by councils across England during 2017-18, the first fall in five years. Councils recorded 997,553 incidents of illegal dumping, an average of more than 2,700 a day. It was a slight decrease on the 1,011,000 in 2016-17 and is the first time the figure has dropped since 2013. The government said two-thirds of fly-tipping involved household waste. It did not reveal the total cost to taxpayers of clearing...
Society
Children living in London boroughs with high diesel pollution suffer from stunted lung capacity, putting them at risk of early death, a study has said. Pupils living in areas that failed to meet EU nitrogen dioxide limits were at increased risk of lung disease, researchers found. The research studied 2,000 London school children over five years. "We are raising a generation of children reaching adulthood with stunted lungs," researchers said. Academics fro...
Incidents
A private school teacher has been left partially blind after another woman smashed a glass in her face during a night out.  Lisa Bertsch, 30, was at the Be At One bar in Richmond when she was hit in her right eye. The tumbler shattered and left Ms Bertsch, who lives with her boyfriend in Kingston, needing emergency surgery. She said the attack happened when she tried to stop the assailant pouring a cocktail over her friend’s belongings. Ms Bertsch added th...
Society
Discarded syringes have been left in play areas and car parks as a BBC investigation found councils were being called 50 times a day to remove them. Figures obtained by the BBC showed councils handled 18,496 cases in 2017-18, a rise of 7% in two years. A volunteer pricked by a discarded needle has told how he faces a wait for HIV and hepatitis test results. The Department for Communities and Local Government said it was "committed to doing more to reduce d...
Society
The German Zeppelin bombing campaign of London during WWI has been brought to the fore again days before the centenary of the war in a film made by schoolchildren. The first ever example of strategic bombing in history - a tactic used in total war with the goal of defeating the enemy by destroying their morale or economy - was during the First World War Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II initially banned attacks on the capital because of his close connection to the...
Society
London’s busiest train station has recruited a hawk to scare off pigeons following a spate of complaints from angry passengers. Aria, a five-year-old harris hawk, has begun patrolling Waterloostation in a bid to stop people having to “fight" off pigeons while eating. There are 27 food and drink retailers at the Network Rail-managed station, and many customers have complained about pigeons pecking at food and leaving a mess. The birds have been pictured sit...
age-restriction-popup-content