Oral History and Walking


An invitation to participate in a seminar held by the Oral History Society in September 2017, based on some work from thirteen or so years before, got me thinking about oral history and differing walking practices. Obviously, many people record their walks – but I wanted to seek examples of projects and ideas beyond that admittedly admirable practice.

So I joined the Walking Artists Network and introduced myself with a question: I wondered if any walking artists carried out oral history projects as part of their approach. Some examples follow, but first I thought I might outline my experiences and ideas.

The work which was so well regarded was for www.irespect.net – the website seems a bit creaky now, but my perspective was that the lives of ordinary people were as necessary to any transmission of ‘Heritage’ as the lives of the powerful: a form of ‘Counter-Heritage’, in a way. I also put together a whole series of worksheets and lesson plans for schools. What I/we haven’t done is to walk the streets of Gloucester, using those testimonies and questions for walking and discussion: the great thing about devising questions with testimonies is that it stops those oral testimonies becoming inert. The questions promote engagement – that is especially so, of course, with young people.

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Come Back Dad (Again)

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The Anniversary of the NHS: Parity not Charity

Tucked between the Trinity Rooms and the Hospital we celebrated the NHS’s 65th birthday this week in the Pocket Park. Built and given to the people in the 1880s, the Trinity Rooms acted as a ward in the First World War for troops, many, almost certainly, wounded on...

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Gloucestershire and the Peasants’ Revolt

Walking between Climperwell and Caudle Green, You walk through prehistory As well as the spring-source of the River Frome; And then at Grid reference SO 928117, Latitude 51.80389980, Longitude -2.10581700 (400m metres south-west of Groveridge House, Near Brimpsfield),...

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May 21st 1839 on Selsley Common

May 21st 2016 – May 21st 1839 ‘A lovely day spent on Selsley Common today, remembering this day in 1839 when 5,000 gathered here in support of the People’s Charter. Then a talk about it all in the Bell, and a toast with the commemorative porter. Something quite...

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The 5 Ws and the H of Chartism

The 5 Ws and the H of Chartism It was a political movement – for the ‘People’s Charter’ – (‘Universal Suffrage, No Property Qualification, Annual Parliaments, Equal Representation, Payment of MPs and Vote by Ballot’), With three petitions to parliament in...

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