2006 - Remembering Wivenhoe, an update from the Wivenhoe Oral History
Wivenhoe’s community oral history project, `Remembering
Wivenhoe’, which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, has made
excellent progress over the last few months.
the memories of over 150 people from all the main aspects of Wivenhoe life
recorded, we have almost completed interviewing. In May we are hoping to
add some children’s impressions of living in Wivenhoe today.
two main outcomes of the project will be a film/DVD, for which we started
filming in February, and a book of Wivenhoe memories, to be published by
Tempus, which is already in first draft. Editing these testimonies has
brought home how fascinating they are, and powerful in conveying our own
community’s special history. We shall be launching the book and DVD
together at our autumn meetings.
In the meantime, on 28 March 2006, an
enthusiastic audience of some seventy Wivenhoe people enjoyed a foretaste
of some parts of the book in a presentation of photographs and voices from
the interviews. This was presented by Don Smith, Janet Turner and Marcel
Glover, with a commentary by Paul Thompson. The overall theme was
Wivenhoe’s changing social life.
The first half began with the pubs, the
different kinds of customers from trade unionists and commuters to
artists, and pub culture including jokes and games but also taking care of
those who had drunk too much. Like the pubs the churches have been central
to village life for centuries, and one memory took us back to a time when
the Sunday School outing to Walton was the one time in the year that
poorer children could leave the village. But as we heard, the churches
were also changing, the Congregationalists very early to have a woman
minister, and the Anglicans developing music and, more controversially
recounted, installing toilets – to the horror of Miss Marple.
The performing arts societies, by contrast,
are much newer: probably the earliest the Wivenhoe Players, founded in
1968, with the Pantomine, Gilbert and Sullivan and Folk Club following in
the 1980s. There was a nice link, however, in that the G & S first
performed in the church with then rector, Stephen Hardie, as leading
After an interval in which the buzz of
reminiscence could be heard flowing freely, the second part focussed on
some of the leading village clubs. Of the three sports clubs, the Cricket
Club goes back to the mid-19th century, and there were notable
memories of its fetes; for both cricket and football there were struggles
to secure their grounds; while the Bowls Club had interesting debates on
the merits of admitting ladies to membership.
Memories of the Sailing Club went back to
its foundation in 1925, and the skills of traditional sailing - including
Wivenhoe One-Designs. A particularly notable point was how working
together as volunteers was central to the Club’s spirit, `the heart of
the Club’. This thought was
echoed in the memories of the Allotment and Garden Society, with which the
evening concluded. Here again
there had been a fight to keep the ground, and there had been notable
fetes, but the strongest appeal of all for the allotment holders was their
mutuality, exchanging plants, advising on how to grow them, as Phil
Faucheux put it, `fellowship’.
|Some pictures from the evening in March
when Paul Thompson updated us all on the progress of the project,
played some of the recordings and co-ordinated them with slide
images projected on to a big screen.
|Above: In the William Loveless Hall
Below: Denis Sparling, a former Wivenhoe landlord
|Above: Brenda Corti who has done
much of the administrative work in the project.
Below: Archie Whaley showing a prize he won when at school in
here for the Oral History Project's home