A set of eight listening benches are being installed by the Essex Record Office across Essex this summer, including this one at Saffron Walden Museum. These benches tell stories and play recordings of local history past and present, through in-built speakers.
The benches are part of You Are Hear: sound and a sense of place, a project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Essex Heritage Trust and the Friends of Historic Essex. You Are Hear is a three-year project to digitise, catalogue, and make available many of the historically significant sound and video recordings in the ERO’s Essex Sound and Video Archive.
The project has worked with community groups in villages and towns throughout Essex, helping them to reflect upon where they live by engaging with the recordings. Each group created a montage of clips about their community from recordings in the Archive, which will be played on the sound benches.
At our bench, you can hear memories of life on Castle Street and in the town centre in Saffron Walden, back when the town still had a Corn Exchange, livestock markets, the Rose & Crown hotel and Victorian swimming baths.
Other benches are located in Basildon, Castle Hedingham, Colchester, Great Dunmow, Great Waltham, Harwich and Kelvedon, with two more sound benches touring the county, starting at Stansted Airport and Belhus Woods Country Park.
The bench at the museum was unveiled on Thursday 30 June, at a ceremony attended by representatives of Essex Record Office, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Saffron Walden Town Initiative and Saffron Walden Museum, as well as some of the individuals who shared their stories.
Why not take a minute to sit in our beautiful museum grounds, with a view of the 12th century Walden Castle, and listen to memories of Saffron Walden in times gone by?