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Guest Post – FreeTime: Stories of Leisure Then and Now

Monday, September 16th, 2013

FreeTime is an oral history project recording the changing nature of our leisure time over the last 60 years, to preserve and capture our everyday memories and ensure that an important part of our heritage is not lost. We are creating a new archive that will be housed at Dorset History Centre, so that future generations can discover the views and feelings of ordinary people through the descriptive accounts of their experience.

We Want to Hear from You!

Young and old have been sharing in a range of activities and we have captured a number of stories from the 1940s right up to the present day. These oral histories are posted up onto Take a moment to peruse through some of the interviews posted here.

Joe Stevens, project leader, said; “When you look at old black & white photos or films it can look like a completely different age, but what we are hearing is that life today is not that different from times past.” Joe added; “We are not just looking for people’s memories from long ago, but also the recent past. We are hoping to capture a range of stories from 1945, right up to the present day.”

We have been intently listening to people passionately sharing stories about their lives.  However nearly all these memories have come from people who have moved into the area and their stories are of their childhood play in other parts of the country. We would really like to add memories from people who grew up in Dorchester or the surrounding areas.

We are also seeking people who used to, or still do, pursue hobbies that aren’t around so much nowadays. Hobbies like home electronics, tape recording clubs, home cinema clubs, model railway, or ham radio, were all extremely popular in their day. Dedicated amateurs would meet and swap tips, exchange recordings, enter competitions and arrange activities. Eager members would lug heavy equipment around the countryside, to church concerts, fire stations and carnivals to capture the world around them. Would you be willing to share your memories to add to this new archive?

Or perhaps you do a modern alternative to an old hobby?

Along with the new archive, this all leads up to an exhibition at Dorset County Museum in March 2014, with the release of a FreeTime app.

Volunteers are now out in the community capturing local people’s leisure time memories. We have volunteers working in Bridport, Dorchester, Weymouth & Portland, and Sherborne. If you are interested in your story being added to this archive, or you would like to find out more about this project, please get in touch with Joe Stevens on 07784 874112, email or visit

Project Partners

Dorset County Museum, Thomas Hardye School, Dorset History Centre, Dorset Dorset Partnership for Older People Programme (POPP), AgeUK, U3A, Magna, and digital:works

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