Fakenham and District Community Archive started as a Norfolk County Council project in 2002 between the Library and Adult Education services, under the chairmanship of a Fakenham Learning Community Co-ordinator, who wrote the constitution.
The initial aim of Fakenham & District Community Archive was to digitally collect images of local history of the town and its surrounding villages, to be shared county-wide in preparation for a national website (using COMMA software). Funding for COMMA ceased in 2005, and an independent group of local volunteers continued to run the group.
During this time the group continued to collect photos and show them on a computer at the local museum and, with a laptop and projector, at day centres, residential care homes and at the Fakenham Focus Community Information and Advice Centre.
Additional equipment (more laptops, a projector, screens, scanners, an audio recorder and printers) enabled the group to expand its activities. These items were bought through various grants, including the local Market Tolls Fund and Grassroots.
In 2010 a volunteer Website Manager was recruited to the committee, who developed our existing website. This enabled the archive to reach many more people from outside the area who are interested in Fakenham and district. The whole archive now contains over 11,000 images, and our website currently displays about 1,000 these. A ‘Contact Us’ section on the website enables us to have contact with individuals and for them to leave their enquiries and memories. The website has a section for short video clips and links to many other websites, including community archives, publications and other local history groups. A Facebook page, which reaches a younger age group and generates lively debates, comments and first-hand historical information, was also developed.
Monthly archive sessions for the general public have been held for the last five years, following on from local history talks in the library. At these sessions people bring in their photos for scanning, investigate the archive on our laptops and from folders and join the general discussion about the slideshow presentation that’s running. The sessions are friendly and sociable events, with refreshments provided.
In December 2011, courtesy of FAKENHAM and DISTRICT SUN, we began publishing our regular ‘Local History Corner’ slot. These carefully researched picture articles offer readers the opportunity to see some of the many interesting pictures which have been donated to the community archive over the years. For those who may not receive a regular copy of the Sun, or who perhaps live further afield there is an opportunity to view the latest article right here on our website.
In 2016 we were delighted and very proud to have had our hard work recognised by the CAHG (Community Archives and Heritage Group).
The CAHG monitors and supports many similar organisations across the country and each year, award eligible groups the prestigious CAHG ‘Sustained Achievement Award’. Eligible groups or organisations are those who have been working hard and consistently achieving high standards of excellence across the archive and heritage sectors over at least a 10 year period.
In 2012 we celebrated our tenth anniversary by formally consolidating our existing links with the Fakenham History Society and Fakenham Museum of Gas & Local History by establishing the ‘Fakenham Heritage Group’. Together we have organised local history talks, historical town walks, displays, attended history fairs and community events, and taken part in library projects, World War One commemoration, the Fakenham Junior School centenary and the ‘Norfolk at the Cinema’ project.
In 2013 we published our first booklet. “Evacuated to Fakenham” is a diary written by Second World War schoolboy evacuee Fredrick Parker. This was produced in-house and continues to sell well.
In 2016 we further extended our ‘Outreach’ program of informal showings of the archive. Our ‘Outreach’ sessions offer those who are unable to visit our monthly sessions in Fakenham Parish Church to enjoy the community archive in a more familiar and relaxed environment. Local residential care Homes, day centres, community groups and schools are among those we currently work with.
Also in 2016 we were both delighted and very proud to have had our hard work recognised by the CAHG (Community Archives and Heritage Group). The CAHG monitors and supports many similar organisations across the country and each year and awards eligible groups the prestigious CAHG ‘Sustained Achievement Award’. Eligible groups or organisations are those who have been working hard and consistently achieving high standards of excellence across the archive and heritage sectors over at least a 10 year period.
Our enthusiastic committee of ten volunteers intends to continue to build the archive and continue our partnership work, to reach out to as many diverse members of the community as possible.
Fakenham Community Archive, October 2016
Fakenham Community Archive committee members Alan Leventhall, Howard Young, Anna Coburn, Mo Bruce, Lyn Maple, Chris Chalk and Peter Boggis, show off their award certificate outside Fakenham library.