East Midlands Oral History Archive

Oral history in Leicestershire

If you would like to add details of your project to this page, email us at emoha@le.ac.uk.


Lost Legends marked and celebrated the achievements of the African and African Caribbean communities with the anniversary of 30 years of Black History Month in October 2017. The project recorded and collated memories, achievements and contributions to the cultural heritage of British Black history of Leicester’s local trailblazers through oral history and the donation of brochures and other memorabilia. 

The Leicestershire Victoria County History Trust's Charnwood Roots initiative is part of a national project to research and write a reference history of every town, village and hamlet in England. While the project's interests range over thousands of years of history, oral history is an important part and interviews have been carried out with people of the Charnwood area. The project received a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. 


Oral history was one element of the Cultural Quarter Heritage project run by Brightsparks: Arts in Mental Health Group, a voluntary organisation that uses the arts to promote positive images of mental health, social inclusion, and service user and carer involvement. The project looked at the heritage of Leicester's Cultural Quarter. A video about the project plus reminiscences about the area are on the project's blog


Leicester's Black Music Heritage project engaged volunteers in researching, documenting and celebrating the history of Black music styles in Leicester over the previous 40 years. It created a documentary film charting the history of soul, disco, reggae, R&B, gospel, drum 'n' bass, hip hop and ‘urban’ music in the city. As a follow on project, 2Funky Arts created Radio2Funky which broadcast radio programmes throughout Black History Month in 2015. Some of the broadcasts, featured guests from the Black community and the Black music scene in Leicester. These programmes are archived on Radio2Funky's Mixcloud channel

Leicester Windrush Project documented the stories of some of the pioneers who created Leicester's Caribbean community from the 1940s onwards. The project created a documentary, booklet, exhibition and audio CD. A brief preview of the full documentary film can be seen on YouTube as well as on the Leicester Windrush Project website

Belgrave Mela: a 30-Year History captured memories of the Leicester Belgrave Mela. Find out more on YouTube and the project Mela Festival website. Funding was received from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.


Leicester LGBT Centre's Untold Stories was an oral history project set up by volunteers to capture memories, experiences and personal histories of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. Interviews were carried out with members of the LGBT community in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland about their own personal experiences from pre-1967 to the early 2000s. A grant of around £50,000 was awarded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. 


The Year of the Leicestival, led by the charity Focus, asked young people to document celebrations and festivals in Leicester over the course of a year. The Year of the Leicestival Showreel is on YouTube. There is also a free downloadable book and audio clips on Soundcloud. Funding was awarded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.


Leicestershire AIDS Support Services published a book based on oral history interviews to mark its 25th anniversary in 2012. Called '...and it won't go away', it included interviews with people who founded the organisation and were part of its developments. It also included a timeline of events from the organisation and from the wider world relating to HIV and AIDS.


Nine Decades of Caring and Campaigning: The Royal British Legion in Leicestershire and Rutland, 1921-2011 was led by the Records Office for Leicester, Leicestershire & Rutland project recorded memories from members of the British Legion in Leicestershire and Rutland to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Legion. Documents, photographs and memorabilia were also collected.


Legacy of Partition was a project run by the Records Office for Leicester, Leicestershire & RutlandThe project explored the legacy of the Partition of India from 1947 to 1948. It gathered memories of people who lived through the upheaval of Partition and the creation of East and West Pakistan and who now live in Leicester, Leicestershire or Rutland. 


Burbage Heritage Group aimed to record The History of Burbage Cricket Club. The club is mentioned in the South Leicester Cricket League in 1896. The group carried out research in public libraries, local records offices, newspaper archives, County Cricket archives and other local cricket records as well as the clubs own records. Oral histories were gathered from present and past members and others associated with its history. The club has played on the same cricket square (they believe) since its inception and the group researched the history of this land from old tithe maps, records and conveyance deeds. The project received a grant of £15,923 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Leicester Cultural Quarter Audio Tour was devised by Watch This Space and Leicester City Council as an audio tour around Leicester's Cultural Quarter to celebrate the unique history of the area. The audio tour blended interviews, found sounds, creative text and atmospheric music to reveal the many layers and lives of this vibrant place. Funding was awarded by Leicester City Council & European Regional Development Funding.

The Friends of Thringstone recorded people talking about their memories of Thringstone. The group published two books, Memories of Thringstone, Parts One and Two, largely based on transcriptions of oral histories.

Braunstone Memories was an oral history project from the East Midlands Economic Network which resulted in an archive of interviews which covers many aspects of life on the Braunstone housing estate in Leicester since its creation in the 1930s.The project received funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. 

Bottesford Heritage Project was developed by Bottesford Environmental Conservation Volunteers under the working title 'Bottesford Living History'; it aimed to preserve the communal memory of the village of Bottesford's history and changes that have taken place within living memory. Among other things, it aimed to assemble an electronic archive of oral history, photographs, maps and written material with emphasis on change in Bottesford in the last 60 years or so. Find out more on the Bottesford Heritage Project website. A grant of £22,566 was awarded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. 


Symingtons: Harborough's Lost Workforce was led by Market Harborough Local History Group project aimed to involve young people in exploring the Symington industries in Market Harborough, making soups and corsets. It offered a learning experience for youth, community and school groups in partnership with Harborough Museum. It resulted in a DVD and education pack incorporating archive footage of the two factories and film footage of ex-employees. The project was awarded a grant of £15,444 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. 

Celebrating 100 years of Leicester General Hospital researched and collected information about Leicester General Hospital and its surrounding communities from 1905. It culminated in an exhibition, a history booklet called 'The Palace on the Hill', a website and a series of history talks. A grant of £20,790 was awarded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Following the success of the CD, 'Memories Are Made of This', 'Barwell Bits and (Earl) Shilton Snips' recorded memories of life and work in the boot and shoe trade, once a significant employer for the residents of Barwell, Earl Shilton and many surrounding villages. 'Life and Sole' covers all aspects of footwear production, including the social life provided by the factories and includes memories of factory workers, office staff and employers. It recalls stories that reflect the hierarchy of skills within a factory and the variation in working environments created by the factory owners. Training and support from local resident Dave Kitto helped to produce high quality recordings. Barwell Bits & Shilton Snips members trained 20 young people to interview their older relatives. Members of Earl Shilton Methodist Guides and Barwell Church Lads and Girls Brigade worked in pairs to devise their own questions and this added a further 10 interviews. This enhanced the understanding and shared knowledge between different generations of residents. Funding was received from Leicestershire County Council's Better Communities Awards and the George Ward Fund.

Belgrave Memories was led by the East Midlands Economic Network, resulted in an archive of interviews with over 80 people, covering many aspects of life in the Belgrave area of Leicester since 1945. The transcripts of these interviews have now been published as 'Tales of Belgrave' while a summarised version is available as 'Belgrave Memories'. Both are available from the East Midlands Economic Network Ltd. Find out more on the Belgrave Memories website. The project received a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Castle Donington Museum Trust's A Community at War: 60 Years On researched and collected information about Castle Donington during the Second World War. The research culminated in an exhibition in 2005. A book was produced for use by schools and members of the group to take out to the local community when giving talks. A leaflet was produced to complement the exhibition. The project involved the collection of reminiscences from the local community. These were transcribed and extracts included in the book. Training was provided for those who wished to be involved in the project. A grant of £5,667 was awarded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.


Preserving Asian Heritage, an East Midlands Economic Network oral history project, told the story of the Asian Diaspora from Uganda and the arrival of these people in the UK, in particular Leicester. Edited interviews were made available on DVD.


Growing up in World War Two Loughborough explored the experiences of children and young people in Loughborough during World War Two. Led by Loughborough War Memorial Museum, memories were captured through oral history and included those of non-British people who were living in Loughborough during wartime. The project culminated in an exhibition at Charnwood Museum as part of VE Day 60th anniversary celebrations. Exhibits were supplied by Loughborough War Memorial Museum and local people. The exhibition was created entirely by local community volunteers. The exhibition also generated handling boxes of relevant artefacts with clothing from the period and learning packs for schools and community groups. Local sewing groups helped to create clothes for a role play box. A colour booklet 'Memories of Growing Up in Wartime Loughborough' was produced. The project was awarded a grant of £11,979 by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.


The Appleby Magna Heritage Project from the Trustees to the Sir John Moore Foundation aimed to set up a large exhibition on 'Appleby since the War’. Local volunteers created the exhibition with school children contributing a section on the ‘lives of children in Appleby since the War’. The exhibition used pictures, objects and written and recorded oral reminiscences collected by volunteers to create a display for the wider community. It ran for a year and was integrated into the Appleby Magna History website. The exhibition was housed in the new heritage centre in the Sir John Moore Building in Appleby. The project provided volunteers with skills and equipment to enable them to stage many more exhibitions on other local heritage subjects in the future. Funding received from the National Lottery Heritage Fund of £25,000.

Times, Tales and Tunes explored the fading oral tradition of folk music in the face of modern music and its technology. A group of volunteers, including local musicians, singers, dramatists and teachers, along with community arts organisations and local history groups devised the project. Over 400 people were interviewed and 20 young people were involved in performance and recording. The project aimed to seek out, collect and preserve industrial aural heritage of a coalfield area in Leicestershire contained in the experiences and memories of the older generation and the tales they told their families. An archive of industrial songs was collected, related largely to coalmining, canals and associated trades and a collection of CDs produced together with a book of lyrics and stories. Awarded £11,946 by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

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