Most volunteers working on the MyHouseMyStreet project start by getting involved with data entry but many eventually choose a single streets' history to research in depth. I have not selected a particular street to study, preferring instead to help out others with their work and contribute in this way.
Consequently, I’ve been involved in visiting lots of the streets being researched and chatting to residents, explaining the project and gaining their permission to display MyHouseMyStreet posters on their properties.
Invariably, when I visit a street almost everyone is very receptive to the project and keen to participate. However, there’s usually one household that’s wary of the initiative and who say they would prefer not to join in.
I’m told by longstanding volunteers that, come the time of our street exhibitions, even these ‘die hards’ usually come round and, upon seeing other’s displaying posters on their properties, agree to participate.
Just last week, I was out speaking to the friendly folk in Brighton’s Sydney Street. As per usual, with the exception of one character, everyone showed enormous enthusiasm and interest in the project, agreeing to place our posters in their shop windows, and sometimes fliers on their counters. Hopefully, the solitary naysayer will enjoy the event, once it’s in full swing!
I also visited Hove’s Waterloo Street, where I talked to residents and also met the "Old Market" gardener, and the manager of the Iron Duke pub, once again a happy group of people keen to be involved however they could.
Some of my favourite recent activities have involved visits to record centres. In the East Sussex Records Office, we uncovered pre-war plans for a proposed Newsreel cinema in Charles Street, Brighton. It was never built. In the Brighton History Centre, leafing through Street Directories dating from 1845, we found an old advertisements for a Sydney Street businesses that still has local practitioners, the listing: ‘Left Off Clothing bought’.
It’s amazing what local history can be found when you just scratch at the surface of the huge reserves of records that are held in the area.