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Archive project aims to build big town picture

By Billericay Gazette  |  Posted: May 18, 2012

  • collating: David Bremner, Hazel Morley and Claire Morley of the Billericay Community Archive were at Billericay Library for people to chat to and hand in local artefacts and information

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"HISTORY starts now" is the message that a group in Billericay is trying to spread.

The Billericay Community Archive is a thriving project trying to bring together as much material about the history of the town as possible, collecting photos, memories and even interviews with the town's older residents.

Their motto, that history starts now, aims to show people that they can begin collecting their own contributions straight away, and that we are forging our own history every day.

Group member Claire Morley says there are always opportunities to record our history.

She said: "With the Diamond Jubilee coming up, it is the perfect chance for people to record what happens so people in the future can see how we marked the event. It is something that happens less often than once in a lifetime.

"It has a particular significance for Billericay, because the clock in St Mary Magdalen church in the High Street was installed to mark Queen Victoria's own jubilee.

"A group of cottages in Norsey Road were also built to mark the occasion.

"So it will be interesting to see what happens this time."

The Community Archive project was set up by the Essex Records Office and Essex Libraries, using national lottery funds to set up five schemes across the county, of which Billericay is one.

The group was able to set up a dedicated website where people can upload their pictures and stories and share memories, and were also able to buy equipment to help scan photos and record interviews.

Claire, a business process consultant, of Laindon Road, said: "We get such a range of stuff.

"The old pictures are fascinating, people love seeing old buildings and trying to work out where they are – it becomes a bit of a game.

"We have quite a lot of the High Street through the ages – we'd quite like more from Burstead, South Green and Buttsbury and all the surrounding areas."

Claire has a personal interest, researching her own family's background with her mother, Hazel Morley.

Hazel said: "So far, we've got 1,900 people on our family tree.

"My maiden name was Martin, and that's a name that goes a long way back in the town's history.

"We are still trying to establish if we are related to Christopher Martin, who led the Mayflower, but the records from that time are patchy so we may never know for sure.

"I was always told at school that he was my ancestor though."

The group is using the second Monday of the month as a drop-in day at the library for people to scan photos and share memories.

This Monday, David Bremner, who is also chairman of the Billericay Society, said: "We have had a good string of people coming through.

"Lots of people show great interest, and want to look at the pictures.

"Hopefully, they will share their own memories too."

To find out more about the group and to help contribute, visit www.billericayhistory.org.uk

The group will be holding a fundraising quiz evening on Saturday, May 26 at the WI hall in St Edith's Lane, beginning at 7.30pm.

Tickets cost £5, available on 01277 652609 and 07802 154677.

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