Quarry Tales, an 18-month oral history project that will preserve memories and artefacts from the quarrying industry in Clitheroe, in the UK, has been awarded a £37,700 ($AUD68,607) grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). HLF uses money raised by the UK’s National Lottery to assist heritage organisations through a range of grant programs.
The project is being led by Yorkshire Quarry Arts, a Minerals Industry Research Organisation-funded initiative that engages with communities to explore how quarries inspire creative arts within communities.
A report by The Clitheroe Advertiser and Times stated that volunteers for the project would be collecting verbal accounts from current and former quarry workers, as well as from their families and other affected members of the community.
Project researcher Dr Martin Seddon explained to the local newspaper that the audio recordings would be stored at the North West Sound Archive in the Clitheroe Castle Museum, as well as at the British Library Sound Archive. “There they will be available for future generations both to listen to and for academic research,” he said.
“Even though the quarrying industry is extremely important in many areas, very little recorded information exists about. As part of this project we will also collect specialist local terminology used in the industry that can be compared with other areas – again, an undeveloped area,” Seddon added.
The project has also reportedly received financial support from international construction material giants Hanson UK and Lafarge Tarmac.
Urgent need to preserve history
Retired Australian quarry professional Doug Prosser has been involved in a similar venture for the IQA for a number of years. For more than a decade, he has interviewed members of the Australian quarrying industry and recorded their memories for Quarry magazine’s regular ‘Then & Now’ feature.
Prosser said that what he had learnt over the years was that when it comes to documenting history, it is important not to delay.
“Things are changing so rapidly,” he remarked. “Thinking about it in my short working life, I’ve seen steam navvies operating down at Dunmore, then electric navvies, then of course diesel came in and now you have driverless trucks running around. The rate of change is just so rapid that people are going to forget those things if they don’t record them. Time is slipping past so quickly that people who know what it’s all about are leaving us too.”
Prosser said that many companies failed to recognise the value of maintaining their records. “As management gets younger, they become less concerned about history,” he said, “but records only exist once and if you don’t preserve them they’re gone.”
He also urged quarry members and their families to pass on any historical documents they might be holding on to, in order to prevent them from being accidentally discarded. “Don’t just hang onto the records. Send them in to the IQA so we can put them in the archives where they won’t be lost,” he said.
Historic excavator cab to be restored