Fordham Recalled is an oral history project, started in 2003 with the aim of placing on record the personal stories of people's lives; especially (but not exclusively) of those who have a connection with the village of Fordham, near Colchester, Essex, England.
Inspired by the work done by a similar (but much larger) group, known as Colchester Recalled, this project differs in that it uses audio/video media, instead of the simple audio recordings done by the Colchester group. We felt that they were missing out by not having a picture of the interviewee as they spoke. Modern technology allows us to use a video camera with excellent sound and picture quality, at a reasonable cost, with the added advantage of providing digital data that can be stored and re-formatted as technology changes, all the more safely. We were concerned that audio tapes have a limited shelf life and, as such, may not survive over a long period of time.
Those people who have given us interviews (so far) are as follows:
interviewee date(s) of interview(s) comment notes
22nd March 2003
Angela moved to Fordham as a girl in the 1940s and was very much involved with village life. 1 hour.
01 - wmv - transcript
21st April 2003
Girly has lived in Fordham for all but two years of her life and still (she was 100 in May 2008) lives in the house where she was born. She become our most celebrated villager since she had become a centenarian. Girlie died in 2009. 1 hour.
02 - wmv - transcript
Video viewable on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_62u7r6GEjQ
29th November 2003 and 22nd October 2005
Dorothy was born in Fordham (she is now in her 90s) and still lives in Fordham. She was in service in London as a girl and has been very much involved with village life. 2 hours.
03 - wmv - transcript
Arthur Edward Harman
27th March 2004
Arthur grew up in Wormingford, an unhappy childhood living with an aunt and uncle. Served as an engineer in WW2. His poetry is marvellous and his interview a delight. 1 hour.
04 - wmv - transcript
Video viewable on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8lm-WBwiPY
10th April 2004
Marlene moved to Fordham as a girl and has been very much a part of Fordham life ever since. 1 hour.
05 - wmv
1st August 2004
Pat has ancestral ties with Fordham, having grown up in London and retiring with her husband Clayton to Frinton. She is president of Fordham Local History Society. 1 hour.
06 - wmv
Arthur (Jeph) Jephcott
2004 to 2005
Jeph was born in 1915 in Birmingham and lived in Dovercourt until his death in July 2007. He fought in Burma during WW2 and worked at Woods of Colchester until his retirement. Almost 8 hours recorded.
07 - several recordings at different dates
Dec 2005 and Jan 2006
Richard was born in London in 1923, was apprenticed with Smiths Industries, working in Cheltenham during WW2, joining the RAF in 1946, ground crew, becoming a pilot flying Spitfire, Harvard, Vampire, Hunter, etc. aircraft. Later became an instructor. Now living in Woodbridge. Almost 4 hours recorded.
08 - wmv - VHS - three recordings
and Pam Horspool
10th March 2007
Their son Roger arranged for this interview at Frank and Pam's home in Barn Hall, Colchester. Both Frank and Pam grew up in Colchester and have spent most of their lives there. 1 hour. Frank died in September 2013.
09 - wmv - VHS
20th January 2008
Veronica Doughty, a Fordham resident, arranged this interview with her uncle. Geoffery grew up in Priory Street, Colchester and worked all his working life at the Colchester Lathe Company, a highly successful engineering company that closed its doors in the 1990s. 1 hour.
10 - wmv
26th January 2008
20th May 2008
David came to Fordham in the 1950s and lived with his wife Nancy at Watercress Hall, Fossetts Lane. With tales of his origins in Hertfordshire, being descended from a line of blacksmiths and well diggers, together with David's stories of his time as a borough councillor and one time Mayor of Colchester, this interview is very varied and interesting. David is another of Fordham's celebrities. 2 hours.
11 - wmv - 16GB SD 070316 - Parts 1 and 2
3rd May 2008
...and talking of celebrities, we have another in Reg. He and wife Barbara came to live in Fordham when they retired from the pub trade and Reg is famous for the lecture circuit that developed as a result of the occasional talks that he used to give on the subject of his life in the Royal Horse Guards cavalry. 1 hour.
12 - wmv
Reg died at home on 3rd December 2017.
Pip is a Wormingford girl who now lives in Fordham. She has had a very interesting career and her story, as far as she is able to tell us (due to the limitations of the Official Secrets Act) is quite different to most. She holds an MBE. 1 hour
13 - wmv - YouTube
2nd August 2008
A highly entertaining chat with a man who was born in Stanway and worked at Markham's pawnbrokers and then the Co-op, went to the Bluecoat School, was a quartermaster during the war working at a prisoner of war camp in Wales. 1 hour
14 - wmv
18th October 2008
Grahame is the son of one of the founders of the well know motor car dealership in Colchester, Page and Scott. He was born in Colchester in 1925 and spent some time in the Home Guard during the war. This interview complements another recording done by Bernard Polley concerning the Page and Scott business for which Grahame is very knowledgeable. 1 hour.
15 - wmv
Kevin lives with his wife in Marks Tey and hails from Colchester.
16 - wmv
Doris was born in Fordham and has spent all of her life in and around the village. During the course of the interview, we discovered Doris' large collection of old, Fordham related, photographs. 1 hour.
17 - wmv - VHS - plus photographs
Alan was born in Walthamstow and came to Fordham in 1968. He served with the RAF during the war, a WOP AG (aircraft gunner) mainly connected with Warwick aircraft on search and rescuse duties. After the war he became an accountant. 1 hour.
Alan died in June 2012.
18 - wmv
Video viewable on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-vPt9GI-Dg
Derek was born in Ford Street, Fordham and still lives in Ford Street. Fordham. He followed in his grandfather's and father's business as a builder and developed a life-long interest in motorcycles, especially trials. Derek brought along some old photographs and talked about these during his interview. 1 hour
19 - wmv - VHS - plus photographs
Derek died in 2017.
Video viewable on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVaDyF2pMFc
Paul was born in Aldershot in 1939 but came to Colchester in 1946, his family living in military married quarters in Aisne Road. For all his working life he worked for Colchester hospitals as a microbiologist. When he was married, he and his wife Veronica came to live in one of the new houses in Hall Lane, Fordham. 2 hours
20 - wmv
Stan was born in 1924 and had recently received a commemorative medal from the French government in recognition of his services as a cable layer with the British Army during the D-Day landings in Normandy in 1944.
21 - 16GB SD - 070316
Regrettably, Jess emigrated to France in 2017, so this project has come to a standstill. If anybody would like to continue with it, please make contact with us.
We would be looking for people who were willing to be interviewed, especially those with a local upbringing and of an elderly age.
We are all mortal, but this project brings a kind of immortality to a few of us. The record that is left behind will be enjoyed by family and by history researchers alike.
To volunteer to be interviewed, please contact us here, or by writing to
Jess Jephcott, c/o 8 Mulberry Avenue, Colchester, Essex CO2 8RZ
There is absolutely no charge for this. We do it for the enjoyment of hearing an old'un talk about the past and for opportunity to make a record of a fragment of our country's history. A copy of your interview will be put onto a video cassette or computer disk, for you to keep. Further copies can be made but we would like you to provide the tapes or disks for this purpose.
HOW DO WE DO IT?
This project aims to record the lives of elderly (usually aged 75 and more) people with a Fordham or local connection. Candidates are invited to sit in front of a video camera and to tell the story of their life. The product serves two main purposes, one to create a historical record for future generations to learn from, the other to create a family history record for the candidate's family in perpetuity.
This project is not unique. There are many other social history projects like this in the UK, mainly simply audio recordings of people talking about their lives, perhaps in relation to a specific area of the country. A few, like this one, use the additional medium of video.
The resulting video recording becomes the copyright property of the interviewee and the film maker. Whilst the ultimate aim is to use the record for social history purposes, the film maker pledges that the film would not be published without the interviewee's permission or during the life of the interviewee.
The recording will be made using basic technology of the time, the data recorded in .avi format. The produces a high quality film of size around 13GB for a one hour recording session. A copy of the recording will be presented to the interviewee, free of charge, on a SD computer disk, or similar medium, according to current technology. No monetary charges are made by either party and the interviewee is free to do as he or she wishes with their recording. After the passing of the interviewee, the film maker will add the recording to an existing archive that, in this project's case, will be deposited with others, at the Essex County Record Office, in Chelmsford, Essex, England. A written transcript of the recording will also be made to enable searching by other persons or researchers.
How does it work? When a candidate requests to have their life story recorded for this project, a suitable time and place (usually the candidate's home) is agreed and the filming is done, usually over a single one hour session. Further interviews may be required if there is sufficient material to talk about.
What information is typically recorded? This is at the discretion of the interviewee. Some aspects of their life may be sensitive or subject to secrecy laws. However, a standard format of questions are normally answered to give a structure to the interview. Starting with a brief introduction by the interviewer, stating date, place of recording, name of project, name of interviewee, name of interviewer, these questions would typically take the following order. Please prepare for these.1. What was your full name at birth?
2. On what date and where were you born?
3. What were your parents' names?
4. What are your earliest memories?
5. Tell us about your father. When was he born, what did he do for a living? Who were his parents, your paternal grandparents? Where did they live? What can you tell us about your father's life? Did he serve in the military for instance? When and where did he die? Who, when and where did he marry?
6. Tell us about your mother. Follow the same line of questions a for the father.
7. What can you tell us about your grandparents, or perhaps great grandparents?
8. Where did you grow up?
9. Did you have brothers and sisters? Names, ages, etc.
10. Where did you go to school, primary, secondary, further education, university?
11. Courting. Are you married? If yes, who did you marry, where and when? Where did you meet?
12. Do you have children? Names and ages ?
13. What were your hobbies and interests as a child?
14. What career did you choose? How did your working life pan out?
15. Did you serve in the armed forces or were involved with the nation's defence?
16. What is your philosophy or philosophies on life? Any other anecdotes or stories. Did you ever meet the king or queen, film stars, etc?
17. Do you have any old family photographs that we could look at? Talk about the pictures on camera.
18. If an interesting story or topic presenst itself during the interview, expand on it.
The aim of course, is that the interviewer is only a prompter. We don't want to hear the interviewer, so a flowing story is preferred.
With ever changing technology, we need to make sure that the data is stored for posterity in such a way that it can be used by future generations. Our current procedure is as follows:
1. Make a digital video camera recording using a 16GB SD mini-disk (90 minute duration approx) of the interview. The file is in a .avi form and the size of a one hour recording is around 13GB.
2. Make a backup copy of the file using a 250GB capacity remote hard drive and remove this to a separate location. This enables approximately 20 hours of recorded interviews to be stored on one remotely located drive, at a remote place from the original disc. Hence, this gives added security against fire or flood. The added advantage of this is that the remote hard drive is easily carried and has a USB2.0 connection so individual interviews can be easily copied to other storage locations, or used for demonstrations and lectures at the click of a mouse.
3. It was usual for each interviewee to be given a VHS cassette recording of their interview for their own personal use. However, a 16GB SD card is far more manageable and can be used to play the recording on a computer and to a television. With changing technology, this storage medium is now a lot easier. A DVD (only 3.5GB) never was big enough for a good quality hour's recording. This will be reviewed from time to time as technology changes.
4. Now we convert the .avi file to MP4 or .wmv to bring down the size but keeping the quality of the visual immage.
We started a new project in 2011 to make copies of people's Fordham related family and local sights photographs. The method that we have adopted is to scan each photograph to a high quality and then to insert them into a Microsoft Powerpoint presentation file that can easily be annotated with identification details and other information. So, if you have any Fordham related photographs and would be willing to let us scan them and have you identify the people and places, please let us know. We hope to build a Fordham picture file for posterity.
Site first established December 2005