On Saturday 23rd June I was fortunate to be involved in The Great British Story: Bexley - one of the key local history events organised by the BBC as part of the Great British Story project. The project looks at British history through the eyes of ordinary people and, besides an 8-part BBC2 TV series presented by Michael Wood, involves a BBC Learning-organised road show of major public events at historic locations in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England during May-July, as well as hundreds of other local events and activities organised by the BBC’s heritage partners throughout the UK.
The Great British Story:Bexley event, which celebrated the local history of the Bexley area and the personal histories of its residents, took place at Hall Place, a stunning Grade 1 listed Tudor house with glorious gardens run by the Bexley Heritage Trust.
Archivists, archaeologists, historians and other representatives from numerous societies, museums and history organisations, including the Museum of London, Society of Genealogists, the Bexley Historical Society and the North West Kent Family History Society were on hand to help visitors connect with the past through workshops, expert 1-1 advice sessions and hands-on activities organised into five learning zones - Local History, Hidden Landscapes, Traditional Crafts, Artefacts and Conservation and Family History.
My stand was located in the Artefacts and Conservation zone, where I dated hundreds of family photographs throughout the day, brought in by local people - fascinating images ranging from photographic copies of 18th century paintings, through Victorian studio portraits to early-20th century street scenes.
In addition to the stands inside the house, a programme of talks was held throughout the day in a marquee in the grounds, including 2 lectures by Michael Wood, a talk by Else Churchill of the Society of Genealogists, an introduction to house history research by Simon McKeon and a family photographs talk by myself.
The BBC have confirmed that 1,700 visitors attended the event - a great turnout and very positive feedback ranging from 8.8-10/10, the talks described by audiences as ‘fantastic’, ‘informative’, ‘entertaining’, ‘very interesting’ and ‘easy to listen to.’
For more details of The Great British Story and related BBC and other local events throughout the UK, visit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00r12j3/features/events