Great Waltham listening bench

Essex Sound and Video Archive / Great Waltham villagers

Great Waltham bench

Essex Sound and Video Archive

Welcome to the information page for the listening bench installed in Great Waltham, Essex.

Here you can find out more about the clips featured on the bench. There is also information about the group of villagers who put the clips together.

The clips currently loaded onto the bench highlight how life in the village has changed over the last hundred years. The clips were taken from interviews recorded by Anne Cowlin in 2001-2005 for her book, Halcyon Days of Cod Liver Oil: An oral history of Great Waltham in the twentieth century. You can read more about her project on Essex Archives Online. The interviews are a fascinating insight into ordinary village life in the last century.

Location of the bench in Great Waltham

The bench is currently located by the war memorial, Banbury Square.

This bench was put together by a working group of villagers in Great Waltham, in collaboration with the Essex Record Office, as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded project, You Are Hear: sound and a sense of place. The volunteers have had great pleasure listening to the recordings. Many of the interviewees have sadly gone, but they leave fond memories. Many are still going strong, and some have taken part in the working group. The group hopes to change the recordings on the bench regularly – add a comment below to suggest some future topics.


QR code kindly provided by Visualead.

Audio clips on this bench

Villagers recall housing facilities when they were children

After an introduction by Peter Bradley, David Wakeling, Rosemary Pitts, and Walter Clift describe the facilities in the village such as water, electricity, and the problem of toilets in the days before indoor plumbing.

Entertainment in the village

Bridget Seymour, Rosemary Pitts, and Doris Snow recall some of the leisure activities from their youth.

A close-knit community

Walter Clift recalls the main families in the village when he was younger. Listen to the full interview on Essex Archives Online.

Shops in the village

Rosemary Pitts remembers all the shops in the village when she was a child. Listen to the full interview on Essex Archives Online.

A different account of shops in the village

Bridget Seymour gives her memories of local shops.

Final memories of village shops

Desmond Devenish adds his memories of local shops, especially Campon’s the butcher and occasional trips to Chelmsford.

Comments about this page

  • I love this listening bench. I grew up in great Waltham and my mum still lives there. I knew Dave Wakeling when I was a child. I recognised his voice immediately. I later worked with Des Devenish and it was lovely to hear him too. I have fond memories of them both and of great Waltham. This is a lovely idea

    By Teresa Milbourn (17/08/2016)
  • Thanks! I’m delighted to hear that you’ve enjoyed listening to these memories. We love the bench too. If you’re on Twitter, you could send us a #benchselfie of you with the bench! (@essexarchive)

    By Sarah-Joy Maddeaux (17/08/2016)

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