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Exhibition marks 10 years for Rodbourne Community History Group
Buy this photo » Chairman Brenda Hedges and secretary Gordan Shaw of Rodbourne Community History Group
RESIDENTS were given a glimpse into the history of Rodbourne on Saturday as a local history group marked their 10th anniversary.
Hundreds of photos dating back to before the turn of the 20th century were on display at the Even Swindon Community Hall, courtesy of the Rodbourne Community History Group.
The pictures gave visitors an incredible insight into life in Rodbourne with images from Even Swindon School, The Dolphin Pub and St Augustine’s Church.
The group, which started out as the Rodbourne Living Story Project in 2003, comprises about 80 members who are mainly local residents but there are some from as far afield as America, Africa and New Zealand.
It was a pilot community history project started by the Outreach Department of English Heritage’s National Monuments Record Centre in Swindon.
Jane Golding, an outreach manager who opened the exhibition on Saturday, and her staff Elaine Davis and Ros Wilson originally staged an exhibition in the Even Swindon Community Centre and appealed for volunteers to produce a digital archive for the community of Rodbourne.
After a year they staged their first exhibition which attracted 700 people over two days and the success of the project persuaded English Heritage to financially support the project for a further two years, in which time feature videos and oral history videos were produced.
In 2005 the group changed to the Rodbourne Community History Group and thanks to a grant from the Lottery Fund’s Awards for All scheme they were able to make a permanent record of the community for the community.
They have now generated a rich archive of over 2,500 photographs, several filmed interviews and an abundance of information transcribed from original documents which were stored in many of the area’s record offices. Perhaps the most valuable archives are the recorded memories of Rodbourne residents past and present.
The group secretary, Gordon Shaw, 67, of Drew Street, said: “The 2,500 photos are a fantastic display of life in Rodbourne and an insight into the community.
“We have got photos from 1890 right up until modern day and they show a lot about the area of Rodbourne.
“I don’t think it has changed a lot, it has stayed pretty much the same because it is like an oasis where very few people travel through. The buildings are very similar with two up and two down.
“There is obviously the new development down by Ewe Street but the mechanic reading rooms are still there being used by the library and it has one of the oldest Co-operatives which dates back to the 1900s.
“We are committed to recording the rich history of this special community of Rodbourne and making it available to everyone.”
As well as the pictures on display there were films of the area shown and two guided tours around the streets of Rodbourne also took place.
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