harvest team © 1898

Rural customs and traditions in Lincolnshire have been unearthed as part of a Lottery-funded project to make an audio record of the county’s heritage and history.

The Village Voices project tells the stories of village life around northern and eastern Lincolnshire – its traditions, trades, crafts and dialects through the voices of villagers who lived that life.

Run by North East Lincolnshire Library Service, reminiscence sessions in village halls and libraries captured memories to create an enduring oral history archive.

Four radio-style documentaries have been created involving many hours of recording, editing, scripting and production. The recordings will also be used as a recall catalyst in reminiscence sessions for people with dementia.

See also: The history of the sugar beet generation

Jennie Mooney, development officer for the library service, said: “The stories we uncovered were endless, enlightening and enriching, as were the larger-than-life characters who peopled them.

“Village Voices highlights a campaign to preserve the Lincolnshire dialect before it’s lost forever and efforts to inspire a new sense of community in villages as more and more people move out of the towns.

“We heard why pig offal was taken round village houses for a fry-up…and why it was bad luck to wash up the plates. Villagers told us why, when they went to the cinema, they had to see the end of the film first and then the beginning of the next screening just so they didn’t miss the only bus home. We heard about the arrival of the first combine, delivered in a box and costing a princely £900. Today it’s closer to a quarter of a million. 

“People talked about long, hot summer days working in the fields with horses, reaping, binding, stooking (standing up sheaves) and threshing. We met one man who had never drunk a drop of tap-water in all his life, always drinking from the village springs.”

A set of the CDs together with the unedited recordings have been archived in Grimsby Library’s Local History Collection and audio-extracts are available online.