Celebrating the Yate District Oral History Project

March 27 2019
Celebrating the Yate District Oral History Project

View from Yate Heritage Centre

AN element of heritage and museum work is working hand-in-glove with local history groups.

The leading local history group in Yate over the last 30 years has been the Yate District Oral History Group.

For those of you unfamiliar with the group, they meet once a month at Poole Court and offer a series of lectures and trips to their members. Perhaps more importantly, they have a significant collection of local images, documents and artefacts.

More importantly still, and there is a clue in the title, they produce oral history. The YDOHP was formed to undertake an immense oral history project, which culminated in the creation of the celebrated Parnall in Memoriam book.

From the group’s inception in 1987, they conducted over 100 interviews on the early history of the Parnall factory site on Station Road, with scores of former staff. These interviews focussed on the technical, general and social factory life during the 1920s and 1930s and brought to life the history of George Parnall and Co, Parnall Aircraft Ltd and, most importantly, the bombing of Parnall Aircraft in 1941, the most traumatic event in the history of Yate.

Parnall in Memoriam has been on sale ever since and may well be the most enduring achievement of the group. And yet, there is more to the group than the Parnall bombing.

During 2018 and 2019, their entire collection of oral history can now be accessed at Yate & District Heritage Centre. The collection is easily accessible as audio files on our upstairs public computer. Naturally, the Parnall material is all there, but it is also evident that there are scores of other interviews too, from radio interviews from local historians to the reflections of local clergy.

It’s all there. The full microcosm of local, social, industrial and personal history you would expect from an enthusiastic set of local historians is covered in the audio files.

A cursory glance down the various lists on the public computer confirms the range of material on offer; local historian Percy Couzens and other interviewees discussing life as far back as Edwardians at the turn of the 20thcentury and George Young, the former auctioneer at Yate Market from the 1930s onwards. They also conducted a number of interviews in the 1990s with Sue Retall and other women, regarding the first ordination of women clergy in Yate.

The interviews can be heard any time during opening hours at Yate Heritage Centre, Tuesdays to Thursdays and Saturdays from 10.30am to 4.30pm.   

Diary dates

Until April 6: Yate Art Society Annual Display. Come and see the work of Yate’s long-standing art group and what they are doing today.

April 8-May 4: Victorian Yate. The history of the people, buildings and industry with made the parish plus previously unseen objects for our collection.

April 10, 10.30am or 1.30pm: Victorian Toy workshop – make your own Jack in the box, cup and ball and optical illusion. Ideal for children 5-12. Booking essential

April 17, 10.30am or 1.30pm: Flower pressing workshops. Ideal for children 5-12. Booking essential.

April 17, 7.30pm: Yate Archaeology group, Roman Saturnalia with Cherry Hubbard

April 23, 7.30pm: Yate Lecture Series, Recruitment into the Napoleonic Army, with Ian and Beryl Furey-King. Hands-on session.

April 27: St George Celebrations. The biggest and best St George event in South Gloucestershire, marking our patron saint with all-day entertainment, activities and stalls with an English and historical theme.