Tag Archives: oral history

Making Histories

We were placed at Stevenage Museum due to a university module, which was called Making Histories. The first time we both visited we was given a brief tour around the premises, and introduced to all the staff.

We were both tasked to do different activities relating to the Talking New Towns Project organised by Grete who was the head of the project.

The first day Luke helped produced a timeline, throughout the rest of the placement he looked newspaper clippings, scanning them and seeing if they were suitable for the website.

The first day Lauren came to the placement she had too help Grete listen to an interview, and help edit it to put on the website. Throughout the rest of the placement this was what I had to do. Eventually putting some work up on the website, which was of a man called Mr Richard Edleston.

When we was both on the placement together, we had to go on a walk around Stevenage, using a special route that the Museum had created, which was then put onto an app which had to be downloaded.

While we were both here, we had the pleasure of the BBC coming in to look at the New Towns’ Project. This was a manic day, but also very exciting because Twiggy was coming in to present the show and also many interviews were taking place. This was something neither of us had ever experienced before if we had never come to Stevenage Museum.

Luke’s Overall Experience

I thoroughly enjoyed my time working at Stevenage Museum, the work was quite monotonous, but it was very interesting at the same time, and all of the staff were very friendly and approachable.

Lauren’s’ Overall Experience

I really enjoyed my placement at Stevenage Museum. The people were so lovely and really helpful and approachable. Being at the Museum opened me to experience different avenues. I have never had to transcribe interviews before coming here, I have also never had to use technology that I have here before either; such as Audacity, a scanner, and wordpress. The experience has really opened my eyes into the world of public history and where my degree could potentially take me. I would just like to thank Grete and Jo for having me and making my experience here so joyful and worthwhile.

Written by: Lauren Faires and Luke Senior

Talking New Towns

Our oral history collection now has it’s own website, supported by the HLF and in partnership with Welwyn Hatfield Museum Service and Dacorum Heritage Trust. The website is a place to share existing interviews and for you to get in touch if you would like to contribute memories.

You are also welcome to ask questions to the oral history collection like:

What was it like to go dancing at the Mecca?

Or who decided for Stevenage to have the biggest street lamp ever?

We have lots of answers that we can then publish on demand. We will be adding content through the summer so keep checking on the newest stories .

Talking New Towns logo

Click the logo to go to the website!

Mrs Hampson, Pioneer

Return to Meeting Mary Tabor

Oh yes, yes the majority of them thought we were all slums and I had to say that “my husband was a great deal better educated than some of you and a lot of people” that were there. But it was an overspill for the bombed out in London and these people had never had a proper house before and they were, they were so pleased to come and have a proper house with a garden. This was what they liked and there was a lot of goodwill between the corporation and the, the people of Stevenage, the new people.

Mr Hayward, Emergency Service

Return to Meeting Mary Tabor

Joined ambulance service in 1948 which was the start of the Health Service. Stationed in Basil Road in the Old Town. Married in 1951, and moved into Stevenage in 1952. Offered house as emergency services. House was in Broadview top of Sish Lane, one of the first houses. Sish Lane was still a track, not a proper road. Very little existed other than some hostels in Sish lane.

Mary Tabor, Housing Officer

Return to Meeting Mary Tabor

“So when the job as housing manager at Stevenage came out, I mean I didn’t leave Holborn because I was unhappy there, except I was unhappy we couldn’t do much.

I remember this rather depressing time when all you had to let was an occasional vacancy you know going through agonies as to who this two rooms with a sink on the stairs was going to be let to and saying if only I could have a terrace of nice little houses with gardens.

And I kept diary that had terraces and terraces anyway so I got the job in 1951 when before apart from a few staff houses, before the houses started.

I was the first housing manager from the housing point of view I saw it from the very beginning.”

Audio not available.

Mrs Rees, Community Activist

Return to Meeting Mary Tabor

Most people thought all the roughs from the top of the housing list in London were coming out to Stevenage, that isn’t so.

You could only come to Stevenage if you had a job and the people who were allocated their housing nominations in the firms were not going to give jobs to people who were going to sweep up, they wanted their skilled workers to come.

Mrs Askew, Pioneer

Return to Meeting Mary Tabor

“We were the very first people in Fellows Way and it was the very first house to be finished because at that time Miss Tabor was friendly with mum and dad, and she rushed through, so we could get the house finished, and we had a choice of number three or five. And there was a chap working for the corporation named Harry Byatt and he came to see mum and advised her to take number five, because he had a good look and he said that number three was going to have problems with the floor. So she said right. So she decided on number five, so they quickly finished the house. And number three since has had the floor in the lounge cracked twice, so you know – one of those things.”

Mr Lowe, Builder

Return to Meeting Mary Tabor

And the only one we didn’t have to go to a labour exchange was Stevenage, because at that time the Korean War was on and they were calling up the navy reserve. So I burnt me papers and this was the only, because at that time you went to the labour exchange you know they traced you back.

So, Stevenage one you didn’t have to go to a labour exchange. I came here and got a job straight away. 

Mr Lenthall, Engineer

Return to Meeting Mary Tabor

“And I suppose I must have applied for, eight or nine different opportunities, one of which was Stevenage.

I didn’t get a reply very quickly, and we were, going back up to Doncaster to see our relatives, there was family who were still living there, and on the journey back as we passed through Stevenage, my, my wife said;

“I, I don’t know what’s the matter with Stevenage. They don’t seem to want you.”

Anyway, she stuck her tongue out at Stevenage as we went through on the old A1.

A week later I was interviewing. 

We came and we were shown round by, Mary Tabor, who was the Housing Manager at that time, and I was, quite intrigued because we saw, I think about seven different types of houses, how, as we came to each house, somebody in the group would say,

“Ah, that’s the one for me.””