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Background

Arthur Wood

Burslem-born Arthur Wood is remembered by many Potteries people as a jazz musician (with the Ceramic City Stompers, Alan Elsdon Band and Climax Blues Band), a teacher, a canals enthusiast, an artist and a broadcaster at BBC Radio Stoke.

During his time at Radio Stoke in the 1970s and 80s, he produced a wide range of programming for local schools, as well as many educational programmes for the wider audience, focusing on the local area, often involving local people talking about their knowledge and experience of local life.

Some years after his retirement, Arthur had the opportunity to retain several hundred original tapes that could no longer be stored by the BBC. Most of these were of programmes that he had made himself. He kept the tapes carefully in his family home, aiming to digitise and preserve the collection personally. However Arthur’s plans had not come to fruition by the time of his death in 2005. The tapes have remained in storage with his family since then.

How Revealing Voices started

The idea for Revealing Voices came about in 2014, after the British Library launched a campaign to highlight the issue that old magnetic reel-to-reel tapes were reaching the end of their shelf-life and would inevitably become unplayable within the next few years. Owners of interesting tapes were warned to digitise their material before it was too late.

Realising that the content of Arthur's unique tapes collection was in imminent danger of being lost for ever, Potteries Heritage Society collaborated with the Wood family and a team of partners to develop a project that would save at least 440 of the recordings and make them available once again in the community from which they sprang.

As research for the project unfolded, several other collections of tapes came to light that Arthur Wood had given to contributors and others for safekeeping. With HLF's support, we have been able to include these 'lost recordings' within the project.