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Our Revealing Voices project is gathering momentum with our fully-equipped studio open in Stoke, regular deliveries of digitised audio files and a team of regular audio archeologists.

Following our official launch at the Brampton Museum in November, we have been assembling the equipment needed for the project, including computers, headphones, MP3 players, an audio-visual system and a megaphone. We have also been kitting out the studio with furniture and storage facilities.

Meanwhile, over 400 reel-to-reel tapes were taken to Greatbear in Bristol to be digitised. The company has been busy over the past few months, loading up tapes and producing the digital formats that are used for archiving and listening so that they can be catalogued. Batches of the resulting files are regularly dispatched back to us on flash drives. Over two-thirds of the files have now been returned.

As part of the Stoke-on-Trent's European City of Sport status for 2016, PHS was approached to work in partnership on an exciting project to create the city's Heritage Canoe Trail. The Council's officers, who led the project, teamed up with Canal & River's Trust and British Canoeing - to bring about the physical improvements needed on the route - and a group of enthusiasts from the Potteries Paddlers to help design and test the route. PHS's role was to contribute the heritage text that narrates the route and identifies places of historical interest along the way.

The 20-mile trail runs from Westport Lake on the Trent & Mersey Canal and takes in the whole of the Caldon Canal's main line to Froghall. But, as tackiling the full trail in one go would give the most ardent paddler pause for thought, the accompanying guide provides a list of access points and suggests a number of shorter trips. The guide also identifies camp sites and other stopping points along the way, as well as safety tips and other useful information for those taking to the water.

Potteries Heritage Society is to receive a grant of £51,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, “Revealing Voices: North Staffordshire”. Supported thanks to National Lottery players, the project focuses on saving a unique collection of tape recordings made in the 1970s and 80s by former radio producer, jazz musician and canals enthusiast, Arthur Wood. The project will digitise and make available hundreds of archive recordings of local people talking about local topics, with a series of events based on the recordings, culminating in an exhibition in 2018.

The project will enable local people to be involved in rediscovering the content of these historic recordings. People will have the chance to be the first to listen to and catalogue the recordings, and to help share them with North Staffordshire communities over the next 2 years. Potteries Heritage Society will work with a team of partners – Staffordshire & Stoke-on-Trent Archives Service, the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, and Staffordshire University – to train volunteers, host events and offer work experience opportunities. Local community and arts groups will help run workshops and events for schools and interest groups.

Following weeks of planning and collaboration between our two societies, a full coach of visitors from historic Wavertree in Liverpool arrived at Stoke mid morning on Saturday 23 July.

The forty-or-so visitors were welcomed at the Spode site and led to the newly-refurbished function room, part of the Spode Works Museum which occupies a significant proportion of the factory buildings. Our visitors were welcomed first by Heritage Champion, Cllr Dan Jellyman, on behalf of the Stoke-on-Trent City Council, then by Potteries Heritage Society’s Chair, David Williams.

PHS Treasurer, Andy Perkin, gave a short presentation outlining the Society’s aims and significant projects and invited the Chair of Spode Works Trust, Paul Wood, to set out the context for the visit, the site’s 250-year history, the challenges facing its conservation and the ambitious regeneration projects already starting to reposition Spode as a tourist attraction, business hub, conference and exhibition centre.

Lynn Bentley has become the Society's new Vice-Chair. Lynn left Portland House County Technical School for Art and Commerce and began a career in the pottery industry at Crown Staffs as a flower paintress. Other jobs included a 6-year spell demonstrating at Gladstone Pottery Museum.