Ask Five: Blogger Brownhills Bob interviews Lichfield Lore

June 19th, 2013 by Jerome Turner in Ask Five Creative Networks Hyperlocal | no comments

James Clarke of WV11 interviewed Brownhills Bob, and now the chain passes on with five more questions from Bob, for local history blog Lichfield Lore.

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1. What or whom inspired you to take the unique approach to local history that you do?

I wanted to know more about the history of where I lived but the kind of history that interested me –  the story of the burnt out old mill in the woods, the explanation for the earthworks you can see on google maps, the origin of a curious street name – rather than the ‘official’ history of Lichfield. To start with, I didn’t find the answers I was looking for, but what I did find was that other people were asking the same kind of questions as me about the places they lived in. Two in particular were a huge influence – Brownhills Bob’s Brownhills Blog and Mark Lorenzo’s now sadly dormant Tamworth Time Hikes made me realised everyone and anyone (including me!) could join in the conversation about local history, and that there were many different ways to explore the past that surrounds us.

2. What is the most important thing curating Lichfield Lore has taught you?

Don’t take things at face value. There are new discoveries to be made in even the most familiar of places and sometimes even trusted sources can be….misleading.

3. What is the worst thing about doing local history in this way?

Encountering people with closed minds, for example,  those who don’t consider alternative viewpoints to their own, those who look at the past with rose tinted spectacles or those unwilling to entertain new ideas or ways of doing things.

4. Have you found any hostility because of your quirky, informal format?

Overall I think an informal approach has been beneficial. Although it wasn’t a conscious decision to write that way, I think that it has helped to create a place where people feel comfortable joining in, whether it’s asking questions or answering them or making their own discoveries.

5. Where do you see Lichfield Lore going over the next couple of years?

I’m in the very early stages of starting a group in Lichfield that encourages people to get out and explore their city in different ways, sharing their own stories along the way. Yes, it’s the birthplace of Samuel Johnson and home to a beautiful cathedral, and these should be celebrated, but it’s so much more than that as well. I try to promote this idea on the blog, but I think the time has come to take it further. I see so many innovative and inspiring things going on in other places in the Midlands, for example, the Distinctly Black Country network, the Living in the Past Community Archaeology project in Derby and Birmingham’s Still Walking festival and I would love to see a similar approach here in Lichfield. With the blog itself, I think I’ll just keep on following my nosiness because it’s what I enjoy doing! As long as there are places around here to be explored and stories to be shared, I’ll keep writing and keep hoping that people find it of interest and join in.

Talking of Distinctly Black Country, I’d like to nominate them for the next interview. Here are my five questions –

1. Why was the Distinctly Black Country network set up?
2. How important is the role of social media play in helping people to discover the history around them?
3. Why do you think there has been an increased interest in the history of ‘ordinary’ people and places in recent years?
4. How can exploring the past benefit the communities of today and tomorrow?
5. Why do you think some places are more dynamic and innovative than others in exploring their history and heritage?

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