UCL East Memory Bike drives Voices of East Bank
17 January 2024
A specially designed portable audio recording studio on a bicycle, known as the UCL East Memory Bike, has been at the heart of a project to gather an online archive of stories about east London’s communities, heritage and languages called Voices of East Bank.
The project’s newly launched oral history website includes more than 100 audio recordings celebrating the history and diversity of east London life.
The recordings were supported by Dr Anna Maguire who leads a postgraduate degree MA programme in Public History at UCL within the UCL School for the Creative and Cultural Industries (SCCI), which is based on our new campus on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford.
The Memory Bike, a bicycle-mounted audio recording and listening station, is part of the UCL Urban Room. This public-facing collaboration and exhibition space, managed by UCL SCCI, is home to the UCL Public History MA course and supports knowledge exchange between UCL East and local partners and communities. The Bike is an extension of the Urban Room’s Memory Workshop, which allows both the recording of new audio and the transfer of old forms of media into digital formats.
The specially built Bike is a shared resource that can be booked out by students, staff and the local community, helping to bring the Urban Room resources out into east London for outreach, teaching and research. It was an ideal tool for interviewers from the community to use.
Dr Anna Maguire said:
“I have been delighted to be representing UCL in the Voices of East Bank project. It has been a real privilege to make connections with the communities in the Olympic boroughs and support the preservation of their stories, experiences and language through oral history interviews, using the Memory Workshop and Memory Bike.”
Voices of East Bank is led by Community History Project freelancer Lydia Powell and supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. It brings to life personal memories about childhood, language, culture and food as well as experiences of racism and discrimination. The recordings explore themes of migration, belonging, heritage and more, helping to foster a sense of connection, understanding and unity among east London’s diverse communities.
- Marcus' experience on Language, slang and east London dialects
- Ivy from Newham remembering bombing raids during World War Two
- Jagir’s memories of her children’s favourite meals
- Visitors to UK Black Pride and their LGBTQ+ experiences in east London
- Harris Ali’s experience of racism at primary school
Lyn Garner, Chief Executive of LLDC, said:
"This is such a wonderful project preserving deeply personal memories to help us to make sense of a rapidly changing world. Whether it’s someone’s memories of working life in Canning Town, finding community in Spitalfields after the Partition of India, or celebrating UK Black Pride on Queen Elizabeth OIympic Park, the recordings provide a fascinating insight into east London life from the past to present.”
Selina Papa, Head of Engagement for England - London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:
“We are thrilled to support the Voices of East Bank project, which has preserved these unique and personal memories for generations to come. We hope that this project encourages more people across the east London host boroughs such as Newham to be inspired by, and proud of, their borough's rich heritage."
The recordings were made on and around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park during 2023 by Oral History Community Researchers, volunteers, historians, artists and storytellers supported by UCL, BBC History and London Legacy Development Corporation. As well as from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, additional support has come from Newham Archives, Discover Children’s Story Centre, Breakin’ Convention, Deafroots, Badu Digital Hub, Deep Boroughs, Newham Community Project, Roma support Group and more.
- Voices of East Bank
- UCL Memory Workshop and Memory Bike
- UCL Public History MA
- UCL Urban Room
- UCL's Dr Anna Maguire
- UCL School for the Creative and Cultural Industries
- Oral History Community Researchers team, credit: London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC)
- Oral History Researcher Suresh Cockney Sikh with interviewees, credit: London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC)