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Finchley lives

Bishop of London talking to organist Gordon Kirkwood, December 2011, at the rededication of the Willis Organ.

Bishop of London talking to organist Gordon Kirkwood, December 2011, at the rededication of the Willis Organ.

A large-scale oral history project that involved more than a hundred people has been completed in Finchley, in the London Borough of Barnet.

It began in September 2010 with the training of 50 volunteer interviewers who then conducted 64 interviews, gathering more than 25 hours of personal reminiscences of the parish over the last 90 years. An illustrated booklet, Listening to Finchley: Eyewitness accounts of 90 years of change in church and people, has been produced containing oral history reminiscences. With gems of personal detail and social trends, this 32-page booklet will be of great interest both locally and nationally as an example of how oral history records the experience of a community.

The ancient church of St Mary-at-Finchley is at the centre of the community of Finchley. St Mary’s has recently completed a £136,000 restoration of its Willis pipe organ, which dates from 1878. A major boost came with the donation of £50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The oral history project was one of several community projects associated with the HLF funding.

A CD of the restored organ has been made, featuring organists Peter Wright, Simon Williams and Gordon Kirkwood. Also available is the newly installed Listening Post (a wall-mounted player for audio recordings) with themed extracts from the interviews.

Both the oral history booklet and the CD are available from 30 June 2012 from the church office. Prices (including post and packaging) are £5 (booklet) and £12 (CD).

Please send full name and postal address, and details of how many copies of the booklet and/or CD you are ordering, and enclosing your cheque payable to ‘St Mary-at-Finchley’, to: The Parish Administrator, St Mary-at-Finchley Parish Church, 26 Hendon Lane, London N3 1TR. For more information call 020 8 248 3818 or email administrator@stmaryatfinchley.org.uk.

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