primary 2

Introduction to Oral History

Introduction to the Rowlands Castle Audios
by Sonya Teale

When I moved to the village in 1996, I joined Good Neighbours. I had much pleasure in driving Mrs Martin and Mrs Miles from Kings Close to the local shops and Post Office. They had been life-long friends from the day that they moved into Kings Close. Mrs Miles intrigued me with her stories of undertaking the village milk round after her husband volunteered for War Service.

Someone had to record these memories, I could not find anyone.

I took advice from the Wessex Film and Sound Archive at Hampshire Record Office. Rowlands Castle Historical Society paid for a small but efficient recording machine and lapel microphone.  I attended a couple of sessions on procedure for interviews at the Hampshire record Office in Winchester and the Head of Department, Dr Lee, was helpful with advice. I started recording in 2004. Wherever possible, I conducted the interview in my own home where I could ensure the minimum of background noise. There were no telephone sounds, no ticking clocks or noisy pets.

I started with standard questions on age, period of residence in the village, schooling and jobs. At the end of the interview I asked about their experience of D Day preparations, VE day celebrations and village societies and activities. I paused the tape whenever the interviewee signalled to me. Most of the interviewees relaxed and began to enjoy the telling. My role was to obtain the information with the minimum amount of my voice on tape. I also took a photo of the interviewee. The completed tape was sent to Hampshire Record Office where it was deposited and a copy sent to me to hold on behalf of the Historical Society.

What did I gain from these recordings? It was a great privilege to hear of the lives of local people. Off tape we had frequent laughter. I learnt of childhood escapades, wartime resourcefulness, sheer hard work, dances and plays at the Parish Hall.

It has been a humbling experience to learn of quiet, courageous lives contributing to the village. I have greatly enjoyed making the recordings. It pleases me greatly that Rowlands Castle Heritage Centre is making a transcription of the tapes available for others to read.

Editorial: First entered on to the Website in February 2020