1 April 2021

Late lunch talk: Have you heard? Unlocking our past through sound

As well as paper records, Bristol Archives hold an enormous range of sound recordings, many in a variety of soon-to-be obsolete formats.

From Cornish language to live music from Bristol’s St Paul’s Carnival, from oral histories to TV jingles, these audio treasures provide a record of the past and help us step back in time.

A national project called Unlocking Our Sound Heritage (UOSH) is digitising, preserving and making these recordings accessible. It is led by the British Library and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The UOSH team at Bristol Archives is digitising recordings from all over South West England. Some of these recordings have not been heard in decades.

Alongside digitising this material, UOSH is funded to deliver a learning programme to introduce young people to this wonderful audio heritage. Our Formal Learning team is working with schools across Bristol. Over three years, archival audio material will engage children aged 9-16, and enrich their understanding of the past.

This programme uses two audio collections. A Town in the West Country (from Bristol Libraries) is a collection of oral history reminiscences of the Bristol Blitz. Selected clips are used as part of a series of drama and play-writing sessions. The British Empire and Commonwealth Collection (held at Bristol Archives) includes material relating to the Partition of India, which is being used to create audio-visual resources for schools. The resources from both programmes will be available to teachers for years to come.

Tune in and hear just how audio informs and inspires.


  • Lucy Fulton, engagement officer, formal learning
  • Katie Scaife, project manager, Unlocking Our Sound Heritage

How to take part

This free, online talk will be held over Zoom. Please book your place below. Details of how to join the session will be in your registration email. Please check your spam folder if the email does not arrive. Bookings close at 11am on Thursday 1 April.

Although this talk is free, we would be grateful if you could consider making a donation.

Please visit the Zoom website for guidance on joining webinar. Please allow extra time before the talk begins to make sure everything is working correctly. It’s up to you whether you turn on your video but all guests will be muted once the talk begins. You are welcome to ask questions in the chat box throughout the talk.