Sharing your heritage in Local History Month


May is Local and Community History Month and there is lots to do in lockdown with access to a computer. Free family history databases, heritage learning packs to support home schooling, free access to historic resources and quiz questions to test your local knowledge are just a few.

The heritage and libraries teams at North Somerset Council are promoting Local History Month as part of a South West promotion and have been sharing images and history on particular themes. Already over 2,000 people have engaged with the Know Your Place North Somerset Facebook Group, and tweets from @KYPNorthSom have reached over 150,000 people.

Cllr Caritas Charles, North Somerset Council executive member whose portfolio includes libraries and culture, said: “It’s lovely to see people sharing memories online and it would be great to capture some of this on Know Your Place.”

It’s easy to find out more about North Somerset through layers of historic maps on Know Your Place North Somerset (www.kypwest.org.uk) where you can click through time on different editions of Ordnance Survey maps back to tithe and enclosure maps.

Everyone can add to the community layer pictures, audio files (MP4), links to film clips or text that add to the local story. “If you take a picture of something interesting during your daily exercise or are sorting out the attic and find things to add as long as you are sure of the location and copyright, you can add it to the map,” add Cllr Charles. Last month 543 people searched for the first time, to see their house or area in the past.

Sharing Heritage volunteers have been adding to the community layer images brought in by local people. New this month is a collection of images from the Braikenridge Collection drawings and watercolours from the 1820s and 30s which have been pinned to the map. It’s planned to include trails like the route around Hans Price architecture in Weston-super-Mare.

People whose ancestors lived locally 1841-1901 can find out where they lived what work they did and who lived next door when the census was taken as there is currently free access to Ancestry from home with a library card. It is free to join at www.librarieswest.org.uk and with the library card number and PIN log in to the library website there you will see the link to give free access during May.

There are many other resources and indexes on Ancestry to search including military, wills, probate, parish, births and marriages.

When the Local History library reopens the Weston Mercury from 1855 and Clevedon Mercury from 1863 will be available, but local stories are often covered in The Times from 1785-2014 and Newsstream archive which are free to search with a library card from home.

Local records are free to download from The National Archive during lockdown https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/about/news/digital-downloads/.

For help with using all these amazing resources contact libraries@n-somerset.gov.uk