“Your Twickenham”: your social history

Right then, here’s an idea for you. It’s a project that needs you to get involved, write a few words and make it happen. Yes, you read that correctly.

The project
Quite frequently, but perhaps not frequently enough, we ask twickerati readers if they want to contribute to the site. And some of you do. Thanks! Pubs, shops, polluted rivers, charity boutique chic, bringing up kids, the swimming pool to name a few; we’ve had some great articles.

Now, imagine what it would be like if we could have more contributions about Twickenham life – personal memories, if you will – that would not only make great copy on here but also become something of a permanent record of Twickenham past and Twickenham present.

Various social history projects have captured people’s memories on audio, video and online. For example, the BBC’s “People’s War” project in 2003-2006 recorded huge numbers of personal testimonies about WW2. Did you know that Pope’s grotto was used as an air raid shelter by St Catherine’s School or about the V1 landing in the town centre? First hand accounts make for fascinating reading. If you want something more recent and less traumatic, check out our Memories of Twickenham Baths article and the comments on it to hear about rushing down to the pool on a summer’s day or the time the lady fainted in the queue. Remember?

But it doesn’t always have to be memories that make compelling content, current events fit the bill just as well. TV, radio, newspapers and websites all record the big stories of the day but sometimes miss the smaller detail, the stuff that paints a truer picture of everyday life.

So what could you do?
By writing 500 words about “Your Twickenham”, you could play a part in creating a collection of first-hand articles about the town, past and present, that could develop into a social history of Twickenham actually written by its people. And yes, we’re talking about something that goes beyond this website.

The content?
Whether it’s what you did when Bradley Wiggins rode through Twickenham in 2012 or your memories of the town in the war, let’s hear them. Whether it’s a story about watching blues bands on Eel Pie Island, your memories of one of the long-gone cinemas or of breaking your ankle at Richmond ice rink, or just an insight into school life from the 40s to the noughties, let’s hear it. Or perhaps you want to write about when Twickenham didn’t have any charity shops, how you came to study for a degree at St Mary’s University but never left, the day you moved into your first Twickenham house, the street party you had for the Queen’s Jubilee in 2002 or 2012, or the day snow brought Twickenham to a standstill, that’s all good too. Or how about when you watched the Olympic torch pass by on Gloriana? Recent is good! After all, today’s personal accounts become tomorrow’s history.

It could be something serious, funny, thoughtful or even a little bit ranty. It’s your call.

Who will see it?
It’s online, so anyone. And everyone. In fact, one objective would for this not to be a twickerati project but, if successful, to host the content on another site, involve other organisations and widen the range of contributions. The potential scope is broad (but needs a little help to fulfil it). How about plotting articles on a map, adding video and audio, or creating a timeline? Who knows, maybe there’s a schools project in there somewhere?

Getting a town to produce its own social history of the last few decades could be fascinating. So, who’s in?

How do I get involved?
If you want to contribute a short piece or discuss this idea then drop an email to twickerati@gmail.com. Obviously if you want to contribute to the site more generally (please!) that’s great too, but why not start with a short piece telling about “Your Twickenham”?

LINKS:

We’re posting any bits and pieces you email on this page here…
* Memories of Twickenham

Mentioned above:
* Twickerati: Memories of Twickenham Baths
* BBC People’s History: Pope’s Grotto as St Catherine’s School air raid shelter
* BBC People’s History: a V1 flying bomb lands on Twickenham

Examples of social history projects:
* City of Memory – New York
* Murmur – Toronto (audio memories)
* US “Digital humanities project”

2 Comments

Filed under Features, Local Issues & News

2 responses to ““Your Twickenham”: your social history

  1. Worth saying that the aim is to build up some content before posting items on here or elsewhere rather than publish comments and items as they come in. Have a look at the links above to get an idea of how these things can work.

  2. Anonymous

    Nice one. A bit of a ‘people’s view’ of Twickenham’s history sounds like a good idea.