Recording begins for Haverhill at Work project

The group of BT/Post Office Telephones workers that took part in the first Haverhill at Work recording session by the Haverhill Family History Group.''From left: Paul Hurst, Les Mitchell, Brian Thompson, Bryan Good, Peter Cundall, Trevor Cook, Chris Grayton, Tony Turner.
The group of BT/Post Office Telephones workers that took part in the first Haverhill at Work recording session by the Haverhill Family History Group.''From left: Paul Hurst, Les Mitchell, Brian Thompson, Bryan Good, Peter Cundall, Trevor Cook, Chris Grayton, Tony Turner.

Workplace memories were rekindled when the first of many sessions was held for a project to record 55 years of working life in Haverhill.

The pioneering group to take part in the ambitious Haverhill at Work project being undertaken by the Family History (Haverhill) Group were eight employees of BT - before that Post Office Telephones and the GPO - who gathered at Haverhill Arts Centre last Thursday (12).

With the tapes running, the octet spoke of their time working in telecommunications at the Chauntry Road exchange building and how it from being a manual board, to a Strowger clockwork automatic exchange, on to a fully electronic system before going digital in 1996.

They even too along tools and photos to help illustrate further what their working lives involved.

The session was the first of many planned by the history group, with the next being an open invitation for anyone who worked in Haverhill from 1960 onwards to drop into the arts centre between 2pm and 4pm.

Charmian Thompson, the group’s secretary, said: “I think ultimately we will probably end up with about ten drop in sessions and some will be specific to groups that we will target but others we may meet up with in the library of something like that.

“The whole purpose is to meet and record some of these, to give a lot of people the chance to meet up, there’s a social side to this and it’s great to be able to do that.”

A number of employers have been pencilled in for sessions, such as Gurteens, Pye Telecom and Halliburtons (scheduled for December 10 from 2pm to 4pm at the arts centre), Addis, Wisdom, Project Office Furniture (on a date to be confirmed in January) and Haverhill Meat Products (HMP)/Grampian, plus more.

The idea of filming a session has also been discussed, as has going out into the community to the likes of the Leiston coffee mornings held each Monday.

Archivists at Sainsbury’s have also been helpful, providing slides, photos and other items related to HMP.

Once the project - which recdeived a grant from ONE Haverhill - is done, an exhibition will go on show, probably next October.