Winifred (1907-1914) Part 1 – Family Life

Click to hear Winifred part 1 - Family Life (7mins 29secs)
Winifred Barber was a remarkable woman; born in Birmingham in 1907, she was able to recall almost any event as if it had happened the day before.

At the age of 93 she made a series of recordings for the period 1907-1945 which were broadcast on BBC local radio as a unique record of English social history.

Her family have kindly agreed to these pieces being included on this blog with the series beginning in the year of her birth. After a reign of 64 years, Queen Victoria had died only six years earlier and had been followed by King Edward VII. at a time when the stability of the Victorian era was being replaced by rapid social change and growing menace in Europe.

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Cheers! (3/3)

Click to hear Cheers! 3/3 (11mins 27secs)

In the last of the three programmes in which we have been following making beer in a typical micro-brewery we complete the first day’s operations and pass on to consider how you market your output in the face of ‘tied’ public houses – those linked exclusively to a brewery.

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Cheers! (2/3)

Click to hear Cheers! 2/3 (10mins 06secs)

In the first programme we looked at the origins of beer-making and began to follow the process of brewing 198 gallons at the Bewdley Brewery.

In this second programme we take it a stage further to the end of the first day, when the mixture can finally be called beer, although there are still several more stages to come.

This piece begins in the relative warmth and comfort of the office, on what was, outside, a cold, unforgiving Winter’s day.

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Cheers! (1/3)

Click to hear Cheers! 1/3 (9mins 24secs)

It’s is believed that people have been drinking for more than 11,000 years. When man discovered how to grow cereals for food, eventually he must have stumbled on the fact that cereals were good to drink as well. the Sumerians thought it was so important that they appointed a goddess to keep an eye on things.

In today’s language what they stumbled upon was how to release the natural starches and enzymes in the cereals and use yeast to ferment them into alcohol. Fruits, honey, spices – and even narcotics – were added to the mix to enhance the flavour of the beer and its effects. Adding hops began about 1200 years ago.

Small-scale, domestic, brewing of beer was eventually replaced by units capable of industrial scale output but, more recently, micro-breweries have arrived and begun to make serious inroads into the market, with increasingly popular products which have more taste and less fizz.

Typical of these newcomers is Bewdley Brewery, which started production two and a half years ago in the picturesque Worcestershire town on the banks of the river Severn. This is the first of three pieces on how they do it.

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The unkindest cut of all

Click to hear The Unkindest Cut Of All (4mins 00secs)

Some twenty years ago there was a very popular TV show about vets, called All Creatures Great and Small. It had all the right components for a succesful series – a good story line, beautiful landscapes, cuddly animals and lots of strong characters.

The life of a country vet is busy and challenging; not for him/her a doctor’s comfortable consultation room in a centrally-heated practice. A vet must work among the mud and muck of a farm and yet be as medically successful as a doctor, but in considerably less clinical conditions.

I spent a day with vet Adrian Allen as he went on his rounds on the Herefordshire and Worcestershire borders, which he described as ‘typical’. ‘Typical’ turned out to be getting showered from top to toe by an ungrateful cow, whose foot he was trying to save and introducing me to probably the least photogenic aspect of a vet’s work – the kind never hinted at on “All Creatures Great and Small

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Ring-a-ding-ding (5/5)

Click to hear Ring-a-ding-ding (8mins 46 secs)

The final piece on bells involves a visit to theCarillon on the George Cadbury Estate in Bournville, Birmingham, to meet the carillonneur – Trevor Workman.

We’re already looked at the heavy end and the light end of the bell market and a carillon is just about in the middle. At the heavy end you have to pull bells weighting up to two tonnes, and at the light end you shake something weighing a few ounces.

A carillon rings both heavy and light bells, but you get mechanical assistance to do it.

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Ringing in the changes (3/5)

Click to hear Ringing in the changes (8mins 52 secs)

Having cast the bells, we’re now turning our attention to how they are used. We’re starting at what might be called the ‘heavy end’ of the business in St Anne’s Church, Bewdley, Worcestershire.

Originally this ring of eight bells was hung at the top of the 60 ft Church tower, with rather alarming consequences. Bob Carlisle, the Captain of the Bells, will explain what’s had to be done.

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The die is cast (2/5)

Click to hear The die is cast (7mins 50 secs)

Thursday is a busy day at Taylor’s Bell Foundry because that is when the all-important act of casting takes place. Robert Bracegirdle brings his tour of the factory toa climax high above the foundry floor, as he takes us through the magical process called casting. It is as much alchemy as it is science.

This art has been practised in more or less the same way for 1000 years and is best experienced in the falling light of a Winter’s afternoon.

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Summoned by bells (1/5)

Click to hear Summoned by bells (9mins 04 secs)

This piece (1/5) is the first of five originally recorded for the Radio Hereford and Worcestershire BBC local radio station. The series explores the use of bells in the UK and begins at Taylor’s Bell Foundry, Loughborough, the largest in the World, where a bell is about to be cast.

Robert Bracegirdle, the Museum’s Curator, takes us through the history and design of bells which, at Taylor’s, range from 16 tonnes to a small Greek hand bell.

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2011 BSRA Awards

Since posting “Weathering the Storm” in August it has received more hits than any of the other nine pieces on the blog.

It’s also had successes in other fields, too: in the 2011 BSRA club competition it won first prize in the documentary category; in the UK-wide BATRC competition it won the Golden Microphone for the best audio entry in 2011.

And finally, in the 2011 international amateur recording competition run by the Comite International des Enregistrements Sonore, (CIMES), run in Switzerland this year, it came second in the documentary section.

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