New team member: Sarah-Joy Maddeaux

We have recently welcomed a new team member to work on our HLF-funded project You Are Hear: sound and a sense of placeThe project aims to digitise and catalogue historically valuable sound recordings, and then make these available in different ways.

Name: Sarah-Joy Maddeaux

Role: Archivist / Project Officer on the Essex Sound and Video Archive ‘You Are Hear’ project



Why did you want to work at ERO?

Most of my career has involved working on my own or with one other archivist, so I’m pleased to get support and encouragement from working with other archivists for a change. The project, which seeks to make our sound and video recordings more accessible through digitisation, cataloguing, and sound installations across the county, appealed to me as a great opportunity to promote archives, something I’m always keen to do, as well as develop new skills for my future career.


Describe an average day at ERO for you:

So far I have been mostly desk-bound, spending my time making initial contacts with community groups across Essex who might want to get involved with the project. Soon I will start actually going out and meeting people to raise enthusiasm for the project – but I’ll still have to chain myself to the desk from time to time to grapple with copyright permissions for the recordings and other background research. Long term, it’s hard to see how an ‘average’ day might unfold, which is both exciting and slightly unnerving!


What do you do when you’re not at ERO?

I just moved to the area for the job, so I have been spending my free time getting settled. I like walking, so I’m looking forward to exploring the countryside. I also spend time reading and visiting friends and family.


Can you tell us about an interesting document you have come across while at ERO?

I haven’t had chance to get my hands on many documents yet. I did enjoy watching an amusingly cheesy promotional video produced by Chelmsford Borough Council in around 1990, trying to entice people to visit or move to the city, the ‘Heart of Essex’ (VA 7/1/1). Among other things, it boasted about plans for a new development on King’s Head Meadow – now The Meadows Shopping Centre – and the eclectic architecture in the new development at South Woodham Ferrers, which they admitted might not be to everyone’s taste.

You Are Hear

The Essex Sound and Video Archive (ESVA) has been awarded £53,700 by the Heritage Lottery Fund for the You Are Hear: sound and a sense of place project. The grant will fund the development phase of the project, to progress plans so the ESVA can apply for a full grant at a later date.

The project aims to digitise and catalogue historically valuable sound recordings and videos held in the archive, focussing on collections of oral history interviews. This wealth of digitised recordings will then be presented in different ways, enabling Essex residents in particular to learn about, interact with and enjoy the recordings, helping them to use the sounds of Essex people and places over the last 100 years to develop or enhance their sense of place.

A few of the oral histories currently stored on cassette tapes which the project aims to digitise

 The project will work with a range of community groups in villages and towns throughout Essex, enabling them to engage with the recordings and to use them to reflect upon where they live. They will learn about Essex accents and dialect, and be taught how to edit and work with sound recordings to create audio montages about the place where they live. The montages created by the groups will be uploaded to sonic park benches placed in the locations to which the recordings relate. The project will also install interactive audio and video kiosks at the Essex Record Office and create an online audio map allowing users to compare historic and contemporary sounds from the same place.

The Essex Sound and Video Archive was established at the Essex Record Office in 1987 and is one of the most important audio-visual archives in the East of England. Its collections are unique and include a broad range of recordings such as oral history, radio broadcasts, talking magazines, dialect recordings and lots of music. Highlights include recordings of Guglielmo Marconi, George Ewart Evans, Paul Simon, Kenny Ball, Max Wall, David Lloyd and many more.

Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said: “HLF is please to support this project – so much of our history is told through stories, sound and recordings. This funding will help to develop project plans further and give the local community the opportunity to engage with their cultural heritage and enhance their sense of place”.