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Explore Knowsley’s archive collections from home

by Sandra Issar

As we all continue to follow the guidance to stay at home as much as possible Knowsley’s Archive Service (the ARK) is highlighting how we can access its fascinating collections from the comfort and safety of our own homes.

All of the archive’s digital offering can be accessed via the ARK website with links to its online channels and social media feeds plus hundreds of heritage photographs arranged by township. The website is regularly updated to keep the information timely and relevant.

More photographs can be found on its Flickr page. These images expand on the photographic collections and also record some of the ARK’s past community projects.

The Knowsley Archives blog is where the team share highlights from some of the collections and go into more detail about the community projects and the exhibitions staged.

ARK’s Audio visual collection

Audio visual resources are incredibly important in recording and sharing individuals’ experiences and memories, providing direct access to personal perspectives, observations and comments on events which are lost or simply not reported in the official accounts.

For oral histories recounting events from the beginning of the 20th Century onwards, listen to the Archive’s Soundcloud offering. The collection contains recordings from across society, from local councillors embroiled in 1960’s and 70’s politics to Sir Harold Wilson and local people who talk candidly about their lives.

The short films created through the National Heritage Lottery Fund supported community projects can all be viewed on YouTube. You will find some incredible stories – from the first Special Olympics held in Kirkby and the history of the first passenger railway line in the world, to the emotional and joyful reunion of the Alumni of the Malayan Teachers’ Training College and the sometimes challenging personal accounts of World War II in Huyton.

Another great online resource is the Rock the ARK Tiki-Toki timeline, which explores the music across all genres that is important to the people who live and work in the borough, and music created by Knowsley related artists.

Cllr Aston, Knowsley Cabinet Member for Resources, said:

Much of what is held in the repository is unique and best viewed in person, in the search room, where the full value of the aged documents, photographs, maps and antiquarian books can be appreciated. However, while the archive remains closed due to the ongoing pandemic there is a wealth of incredible information and material from the collection which is freely accessible online. There’s so much to discover and explore and the team is still on hand for general enquiries through social media and email.”

Although the ARK is closed due to Covid-19 the Archive Service is still available to answer your family and local history enquiries, email infoheritage@knowsley.gov.uk or call 0151 443 4291, plus Ancestry, the family history website, is free to access during lockdown.