This website presents a wide variety of soundscapes recorded around Essex. They include historic recordings taken from the Essex Sound and Video Archive and new recordings made by Stuart Bowditch to capture the sounds of Essex in the 2010s. We hope you enjoy comparing how the sounds of the county have changed over the last century.
This website began in 2016 as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded project, You Are Hear: sound and a sense of place. The project is digitising and cataloguing a number of recordings held by the Essex Sound and Video Archive to better preserve them and improve access to them. We are putting the digitised files online for everyone to enjoy from the comfort of your own home. As well as adding clips to this site, we are also running tours of audio-video touchscreen kiosks; tours of listening benches; and installing listening benches in communities across the county. You can read more about the project on our blog here.
The project is run by a team within the Essex Sound and Video Archive (ESVA), part of the Essex Record Office. The ESVA collects sound recordings and videos covering all aspects of life and culture in Essex, with particular focus on oral history, broadcast material, music and dance. We can preserve your old recordings, or provide talks and training on oral history and sound archives. To find out more about the services we offer, visit our website here.
Stuart Bowditch is an Essex born and bred sound recordist, artist, musician, and dj. His work is inspired by location and the people, experiences and objects he encounters there. He is particularly interested in sounds that are associated with place, overlooked and overheard noises of the everyday and highlighting the auditory as a defining factor in how we experience a particular environment. His recordings of people, their activities, experiences and environs have contributed to art installations, phone apps, archival records, dance performances, public consultation events, musical compositions, a computer game, a eulogy and sound tracks to short films. His interests made him the perfect candidate for capturing the essence of Essex today in sound, to add to our audio map for comparison with our historic recordings. You can read more about Stuart’s other work on his website here.
The project team is also reliant on a much larger number of enthusiastic, tireless volunteers. We are always interested in new recruits, so if you are interested in being part of the project, please contact us.
Contributing to the site
You can add a comment about anything on the website by clicking on the ‘Add a comment’ link at the bottom of each page. You can also submit your own sounds of Essex to the site by using our contribution form.
Sounds from afar
The Essex Sounds website has taken inspiration from similar audio map projects across the UK and beyond. We are particularly grateful to the following for sharing their thoughts with us when we were planning Essex Sounds – all of which present fascinating collections of soundscapes and are well worth a visit (all links open in a new window):
Favourite Sounds (with thanks to Peter Cusack)
Historypin (with thanks to Tom Miles)
London Sound Survey (with thanks to Ian Rawes)
Oor Wullie – An Audio Map Guide tae Scots Language (with thanks to Alice Heywood)