The Blaenau Project
There are two distinct parts to the project:
An appeal has been launched asking residents to bring any photographs of the locality, buildings, of chapel groups, town councils, social groups etc etc to a central point for scanning into a digital library.
The Scanning Station will manned at certain agreed times at the Cyfle Ffestiniog office so that people otherwise reluctant to hand over their photos can wait whilst their submissions are scanned. A description of the photographs’ contents and the owner’s name will be logged at the same time.
Such a photographic record would hopefully fill in many gaps between those already available in archives and publications. It would enhance this new photographic archive if the collections held by Llechwedd, Ffestiniog Railway, and the former Gloddfa Ganol could be loaned to the project for inclusion in the catalogue. Likewise there are photographs held at the Meirionnydd and Gwynedd Archives and the National Library of Wales that would help complete a photographic history. Support from the local Council in the form of representation to these bodies for free copies and for advice regarding copyright guarantees etc would be very beneficial.
B)Physical and Social growth
The initial stage would comprise the mapping of the physical growth of the town by logging the date each house/building was built with the possibility of adding the occupiers since its construction to 1903. For a large percentage of buildings census returns from 1841 to 1901 would provide the details. At a later stage, when as much information as possible has been gathered via the above, historical information on the houses, shops etc via interviews with the older generation and from newspaper archives would be logged.
This section also involves recording the history of various social groups in the town. It would include religious groups, sports clubs and associations, women’s groups such as WI and Merched y Wawr, the Caban, Choirs etc etc. Several newspapers have covered the locality over the last 200 years. Their history would also fall into this category.
MANNING THE PROJECT
It is proposed that the local schools become involved in the gathering of data for part B) hopefully giving a solid foundation on which to build up greater detail.
The involvement of the local historical society from the outset has been welcomed and hopefully they will play a major part in overseeing the project by giving expert advice.
It should be emphasised here that the project would be fully bilingual both in the collection and storage of information. This would need the service of translators to ensure accuracy. Ideally, if sufficient funding can be raised, a person should be employed full or part-time to log the information into a database for easy access and referencing. This person could also carry out the photo-scanning work, again if funding was obtained. There would also be a need for typists to transfer hand-written material into word processor format and to transcribe oral accounts from recordings.
MAKING USE OF THE DATA
– all the data and photographs would be logged into the Master Database, set up to be as user-friendly as possible. Groups would need to submit as much of their information in PC compatible formats as possible and as much as possible in both Welsh and English. This would make material much easier and quicker to enter into the database.
Objective One funding would help with the employment of individuals to professionally carry out this administration process.
– www.stiniog.com – is in the process of being set up so that information on the project would be available on the Internet. Initially this will be the main portal to the information gathered by the project. However, as the project develops and sufficient information is collated, a town museum would house the archive with themed exhibitions set up both for local and tourist use.