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Frome’s voices find their place in Somerset archive for the future

COMMUNITY group Home in Frome has handed over its treasure trove of interviews recorded with townsfolk for its Working Memories book, which was published last year.

The 86 recordings, which took up 91 discs, have been handed to the Somerset archives in Taunton where they now have a permanent home.

The interviews formed the backbone of the ‘Working Memories – Frome workers tell their story’ book which nearly sold out its first run just before Christmas. But the team behind the book had recorded so many voices they had a lot of material that didn’t make it onto the printed page.

Book editor John Payne said, “The stories in the book represented only a tiny fraction of the recorded material we collected, and our final chapter in this particular story was to deposit all the recorded interviews in the Somerset archives to ensure that Frome’s particular history, of a town that thrived on a rich industrial heritage in a largely rural county, has its place in the records.”

A team of Home in Frome volunteers spent months interviewing people across the town to record their stories about their working lives, housing conditions, shops, markets and schools, the health service, the very different world that children grew up in during the 1930s, 40s and 50s, and the thriving social life based on the town’s large employers.

The team worked hard to transcribe all the recordings and pull together a book that celebrated a glimpse of the town’s history in the book. It was printed by Butler, Tanner and Dennis, and is still on sale in Hunting Raven Bookshop and Frome Museum. A key factor in the production of the Working Memories book was the support received by the Heritage Lottery Fund, with further grants from Frome Town Council, FDCIC and Aster Living to promote and launch the book as well as a loan from the Frome Society for Local Studies.

Jacqueline Peverley, John Payne, Sonja Harris and Gill Harry handed over the box of recordings, along with summaries and transcriptions to Jane de Gruchy, the archivist at Somerset Archives in Taunton. Jane said, “The Working Memories book is a wonderful project and provides a really well-organised archive.”

Home in Frome founder member Jacqueline Peverley was very pleased to see so many Frome voices make it into the county archive. She said, “The handover to Somerset Archives was really wonderful and a fitting send-off to Working Memories as it starts its new life as a research resource. It has been wonderful to see this project reach such a professional conclusion, far beyond anything I could have anticipated.”

Pictured: Home in Frome’s Sonja Harris, Jacqueline Peverley, Gill Harry and (far right) John Payne hand over the Working Memories interviews to Jane de Gruchy of the Somerset Archive in Taunton.