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Rochford District Community Archive
Interview with Marilyn Terry of the Rochford District Community Archive
(11th March 2011)  (See update note at end of 2012 at bottom of page)

Marilyn is one of a small group who are working to create the Rochford District Community Archive. Here is a quick insight into the objectives of the group which will be realised by the operating of the Archive Website which comes online in the beginning of April.


Rochford Life: Can I ask how you come to be interested in this?
Marilyn: It started off with interest in family history with my dad researching our family history on his side and mum’s side right back to 16th century, I think.  My sister – and she’s also a member of the group in Rayleigh – helped Ernie Lane do research as well. He’s written two books on Rayleigh. She was involved with the Rayleigh Love Lane School, helping him, and she has all the record books from Love Lane School, with all with all the comments, so we both became very interested in local history.  

RL: Has the archive got a website?
Marilyn: Not officially yet. It is being launched on the 2nd of April.  

RL: Is there a formal group of you?
Marilyn: There are seven members and we have a Chairman, Brian Pettitt, with Sue Horncastle, the Secretary, and I am one of the seven.

RL: How did that come about?
Marilyn: There were notices put outside the library in Rayleigh and Rochford saying they were interested in getting volunteers for running a community archive. My sister went to the one in Rayleigh where she lives, and I went to the one in Rochford and after a couple of meetings, those who were committed to carry on, formed a small group. We are funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund which is administered through the Essex Record Office and the Essex Libraries. They are the ones who got the volunteers together and will eventually hand it over to us to fund ourselves.

RL: Is there somewhere a literal archive?
Marilyn: It isn’t a physical archive. It’s all a website. We have three pieces of recording equipment, for using to interview people, which we went to Essex Record Office to learn to use, and then put those recordings onto the web-site. We also have a scanner for scanning photos and documents and people will be able to go to the website when it is up and running and add their own materials. It will be edited but that will be possible.  Hard copy evidence will be kept in the Essex Record Office.     

RL: And there are just seven of you at the moment?
Marilyn: Yes, we are looking for new members because we just don’t have enough members to cover the whole of Rochford District. The whole thing started off in January last year. There were quite a number to start with but that’s been whittled down to the seven over the year.  On 25th March in Rayleigh Library we have a whole day to introduce people as we put up posters and hand out leaflets (which we’ll also put in the libraries). We are one of six South East Essex Websites and there are links on the new site to the others.   

RL: Do any of you have a history of archiving or is it basically a coming together of enthusiasts?
Marilyn: Mavis Sipple is a member and she has a book on Rochford and I think she’s also working on a book on Leigh at the moment, so she’s obviously written books on local history. There are others who have lots of skills on the technical side and as I said about my sister and I, a number of us have links and interests into the past.

RL: What sort of things are covered by the archive?
Marilyn: Well it’s a bit patchy at the moment because it is only things put on the site in the making by our members so far, and the best thing is to look at the site as soon as it is up and running, to get an idea of what is covered.  This isn’t the history of important people and important events;  it is the history of ordinary people who want to share their thoughts and recollections about their lives in the past.

RL: So what would you want people to do if they come to you?
Brian: At the moment we are having a monthly meeting in Rochford Library (next one next Friday 18th) but the other five archives do it completely by e-mail. It is simply collecting memories of the community, probably largely through interviewing people. There will be more training on that for those who would like to be involved in that way, but it is that sort of thing.

RL: OK, well thank you for that and I hope the launch at the beginning of April goes well and that your numbers build. I look forward to watch what happens when I look on line in the months to come.




Note : December 2012

Those who use the above link and go to ‘the Archive’ will find that it is alive and well and growing -  in fact it has grown considerably since it started and is well worth a visit.

Those who are interested in local history may be interested in the web-site
which is focused on a new book by Martin E.Ingall entitled “Gummy’s Story - A History of the Rankin Family”.