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National Trust asks public to record seaside sounds

The National Trust is asking the public to record the sounds of the UK seaside to create an audio archive.

The trust wants thousands of recordings uploaded onto a digital map which will be curated by the British Library.

It said the sounds of the coastline were constantly changing and the project would create an audio snapshot for future generations to hear.

Cheryl Tipp, from the British Library, said recordings could include man-made sounds like those of a busy port.

The “Sounds of our shores” project is a joint scheme between the National Trust – which protects historic places and spaces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – the National Trust for Scotland and the British Library.

Musician Martyn Ware, a founder member of bands The Human League and Heaven 17, will use sounds submitted by the public to create a piece of music for release in February 2016.


“I’ve had a deep connection with the coast all of my life,” he said.

“As a kid growing up in Sheffield we’d go on family holidays to Scarborough or Skegness; I can still remember the sounds that filled our days at the seaside.”

Coastal evolution


Jeremy Cooke, BBC UK affairs correspondent

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On the cliffs above Whitby, the herring gulls are nesting as they have for centuries. Their cries are a seemingly timeless sound of the coast.

But, with coastal erosion and climate change, scenes like this may not remain the same forever. Natural habitats change, and the sounds of the shores change too.

That’s why the National Trust wants us all to become collectors of today’s seaside sounds before they are lost.

And it’s not just the natural environment that evolves.

Just along the coast, the old Whitby foghorn station stands as a silent reminder of how man-made sounds can pass into history.

On the roof of the white building are the giant twin horns of the “Hawsker Bull”, as the foghorn was known. It was part of the soundtrack of life here for generations, but has not been heard since the late 1980s.

Ms Tipp, curator of wildlife and environment sounds at the British Library, said sounds submitted could include “someone wrestling with putting up a deck-chair, the sounds of a fish and chip shop, or a busy port”.

“We’d also love to hear from people that might have historic coastal sounds, which might be stored in a box in the loft,” she said.


Kate Martin, of the National Trust, said the recordings would be valuable to future generations and would “bring back memories” in years to come.

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Recordings can be uploaded along with pictures and text via the Audioboom website until 21 September.

After that, all the sounds recorded around the UK’s 10,800 miles of coastline will be added to the British Library’s Sound Archive, joining 6.5 million recordings dating back to the 19th Century.


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