Revamped telephone box helps preserve memories of Alton Water
Volunteers in Tattingstone and Stutton have been delving into the past to discover forgotten stories of the communities affected by the construction of Alton Water Reservoir in 1970s and 1980s.
Part of the National Lottery Heritage Fund supported Sharing Suffolk Stories programme, volunteers on the ‘Land and Shore – Alton Water’ project have collected a fascinating selection of local memories and oral testimonies. These have been used to create an interactive new heritage experience, the Hidden Histories of Alton Water telephone box, which is now available for residents and visitors alike to enjoy.
The project has given Tattingstone’s old red telephone box, situated on White Horse Hill, a fantastic makeover and a new lease of life. Well-known local resident, Griff Rhys Jones, has voiced stories from the archives and local artist Denise Hawes has bought some of the lost buildings and stories to life through a beautifully illustrated backboard.
Cllr Matthew Hicks, Leader of Suffolk County Council, said: “This project is a great example of how those with an interest in history have come together with Suffolk Archives to ensure that these memories are recorded for future generations. It is also an innovative use of an old phone box, right in the heart of the community that has shared these stories.”
John Royle from Chronicle Digital Storytelling, who worked on the creation of the telephone system and backboard design, said: “Sharing local stories to connect people and their communities is what Chronicle is all about, so how could we resist getting involved in this novel re-purposing of a former phone box? It has been a real pleasure working with everyone involved in the project and we hope people of all ages will enjoy using the phone to listen to these wonderful stories of Tattingstone.”
Griff Rhys Jones added: “I love to hear the stories of any area I am in, and this is my own manor, so I am doubly pleased to be able to help tell these. A cracking idea I thought. What a great way to find out what’s what.”
Jane Kirk, local history recorder and volunteer said: “This experience has been simply the best opportunity for me as a volunteer who was already interested in the history in and around Tattingstone to see my long held idea for the phone box come to life.”
Anne Jenkins, Director England, Midlands and East, National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “We are delighted to support this project, which thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, will mean that more people will be able to get involved with, protect, and learn about the exciting heritage right on their doorstep.”
The project has already enthralled local school children, sharing the stories discovered through music, dance and drama, helping to support their learning and understanding of local heritage and environmental issues.
The project also received funding from the Coastal Communities fund, and locality funding from now retired Suffolk County Councillor David Wood, who is also Chairman of Tattingstone Parish Council.