3.5: Local history


This project is designed to develop your research skills. If you haven’t yet begun to generate some ideas for possible approaches to Assignment Three, then this exercise could be a good starting point.

Using the internet, local library, museum or any other resources at your disposal, conduct a short investigation into a historical aspect of the area in which you live or are currently based. This could relate to industry or other narratives in the distant past, or a more recent event. Don’t spend more than half a day.

Gather some primary sources such as copies of photographs, illustrations, maps, written/oral accounts, and write a brief account (around 300 words) describing what you’ve researched and any ideas you have about how this subject might be photographed today in a project such as Assignment Three.

For this local history assignment – which was only supposed to take half a day – I started by doing an internet search – starting with a Google search on ‘Chesterton history’. I have lived in Cambridge since I came here as a student in 1972, and moved to East Chesterton in 1984. Witnessing very many changes. I have also selected different places on  the River Cam where I walk everyday as the subject for Assignments 5 and 6.

I did not expect the internet search to be very enlightening – when I looked a couple of years ago there had not been much. But this time there is quite a lot – it seems that local history is a growing interest as people become more linked up through Facebook. This is now a new area of interest for me – I find it fascinating to find out more about the place where I live and when and why things have changed.

My general findings are draft edited in the following pdf, though there is a lot more I can follow up:

Chesterton Local History

From my initial search I then followed up on the many links to specific areas, buildings and topics.

I started to Grassy Corner where there seemed to be quite a lot of information as the topic for Assignment 3. I found a book with old photos and there are even separate Facebook pages for places like the traveller caravan park.

I am planning now to incorporate local history research into my photographic submission for Assignment 5 : Bench and Assignment 6 Transitions: Bridge. I think this can be done in a number of ways:

  1. Using local history as a framework for choosing particular places – their history significance to local people
  2. Giving an insight on particular photographs and places already chosen – a backdrop to my own images, feelings and interpretation in order to contextualise my images