Waltham Forest Oral History Workshop

London’s longest-established oral history group.

WFOHW began its work in 1983 and now has more than 800 recordings of life in Leyton, Leytonstone, Walthamstow and Chingford in north-east London.

Almost all our work is voluntary, which gives us independence and vitality.

What is oral history?

Oral history is spoken history, recorded for posterity.

Our memories are fragile – they die with us – so it’s important to preserve these precious historical records while we can. We listen to people talk about their lives, work, neighbourhood or on a specific theme and record them so that their testimony is preserved.

Oral history gives a new perspective on the past – different to established sources, different to dry historical tracts – the history of the people of Britain, how they see their lives, and the times they have lived through.

The Workshop was formed in 1983 to record the memories of people in Waltham Forest, north east London. It is probably the longest-established oral history group in London, and since beginning its work has made more than 600 recordings. WFOHW has created eleven publications on aspects of life in this part of London, looking at a changing social landscape as well as some personal stories.

What do we do?

  • We interview local people and record their memories of the topics we are currently researching, and preserve those recordings in the Vestry House Museum, Walthamstow for the future.
  • We write publications on most of our projects, and audio from our interviews is available for public use at Vestry House.
  • We want to make more links with other oral history sites in the UK and worldwide; if you are online let us know.

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