Personal memories of ordinary people give us a unique and powerful view of life in the past. Although the county of Cleveland no longer exists in name, its people, and those of surrounding counties, remain and have come together here to offer their memories and thoughts on the century as it draws to a close. This collection of reminiscences was selected by Neil Gander from the many interviews he recorded for a series of local radio programmes to mark the Millennium, called "The Century Speaks". These programmes, broadcast weekly from September 1999 through to the end of the century, form part of the BBC's Millennium Oral History Project, a nationwide project to record memories of people of all ages and social backgrounds. Forty BBC local and regional stations have taken part to produce the largest oral history project in the history of radio. Every interview will eventually be stored in the National Sound Archive in the British Library, to form a Millennium Memory Bank.
The memories selected for this book are illustrated with contemporary photographs borrowed from the interviews and Beamish North of England Open Air Museum, offering vivid insights into the lives of all kinds of Cleveland people, from all walks of life. They describe their homes and communities, momentous events in their lives, work and leisure, happy times and sad. They are a fitting reminder of how we lived in the twentieth century.