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Unlocking Greater Manchester's Sound Heritage

12/04/2017

Major National Lottery funding boost enables Archives+ to partner with the British Library and a new national network on a major audio preservation project.

The British Library is today launching Unlocking Our Sound Heritage, a major preservation project which has received a £9.5 million National Lottery grant. The funding will enable the formation of the first ever national network of ten sound preservation centres, including Archives+, based at Manchester Central Library and home to many of Greater Manchester’s sound archives. This network will now come together with the British Library to save almost half a million rare and unique recordings that are threatened by physical degradation or stored on formats that can no longer be played. The network will preserve these collections by digitising them before they become unreadable and effectively lost.

These recordings tell a rich story of the UK’s diverse history through traditional, pop and world music, drama and literature readings, oral history, regional radio, and wildlife sounds from around the country.

Archives+ is home to recorded material from across Greater Manchester, including oral histories from Stockport that tell the story of the 1932 Kinder Scout Mass Trespass; material from Oldham concerning the Asian business community; and over 700 broadcasts from Piccadilly Radio. Archives+ will also be a hub for the whole of the North West, digitising a diverse range of recordings from the folk traditions and local dialects of Cumbria to the reminiscences of textile workers in Lancashire.

National Lottery funding will allow Archives+ to work with the British Library to preserve its own unique and rare regional sounds and develop a range of engagement activities to connect the wider public with their sound heritage.

A vital element of Unlocking Our Sound Heritage will be an interactive website hosted by the British Library, allowing listeners to explore a wide selection of recordings. This website is scheduled to go live in 2019.

Councillor Alex Ganotis, Greater Manchester Lead for Culture, Arts and Leisure said:

“This funding boost is great news for the heritage of Greater Manchester and the North West as a whole. The fascinating sound recordings held by Archives+ are truly a glimpse into our past; this project will allow us to celebrate the proud, interlinked histories of our region and preserve these invaluable materials for future generations.”

Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library said:

“We are extremely grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund and all our supporters for recognising the urgent need to save these rare, unique recordings from around the UK. The British Library is the home of the nation’s sound archive, and we are delighted that this funding will help us preserve our audio heritage for people to explore and enjoy.”

Ilse Assmann, president of the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) said:

“IASA recognises that a significant part of the world’s cultural heritage is captured in the form of sound recordings. These are threatened by decay and media obsolescence and unless something is done urgently, many recordings will be lost and unavailable for access by future generations. The Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project is a fine example being set to secure and make accessible the sound heritage held in UK archives.”