History in the making as Lancaster Castle hosts the BBC’s Listening Project

Radio Lancashire news editor David Saville, Radio Lancashire's Claire Ashmore, and Mark Thompson, operator of the listening booth.
Radio Lancashire news editor David Saville, Radio Lancashire's Claire Ashmore, and Mark Thompson, operator of the listening booth.

The BBC’s Listening Project is currently parked up in Lancaster Castle’s courtyard hearing and recording stories that will become part of a national archive.

Mother and son Sarah-Jane Bellwood and Louis Appleby, from Lancaster, spent around 45 minutes inside the soundproofed booth, known as “Betty”, talking about art and their relationship to it on Friday afternoon.

Sarah Jane Bellwood and her son Louis Appleby.

Sarah Jane Bellwood and her son Louis Appleby.

Sarah-Jane, who runs Bellwood and Wright Fine Art Gallery in Lancaster, said the experience was positive.

She said: “It’s been really nice, I forgot we were in a booth being recorded.

“It’s interesting that these conversations are being recorded for the British Library.”

Her son Louis, 26, also an artist, said: “We talk a lot anyway.

“I was a bit nervous at first, but I’m glad I did it. We talked about conversations between artists.”

The Listening Project, a mobile recording booth that travels the country hearing conversations between “everyday people”, has made its first ever stop in Lancashire, and will be inside the castle courtyard until Tuesday August 7.

Producer Claire Ashmore, who is on secondment from Radio Lancashire to Radio 4, has the job of recording the conversations, which will be aired on both BBC Radio 4 and Radio Lancashire.

She said: “One lady, who was with her husband, said she didn’t want to talk about being adopted at first, but in the middle of the conversation, she opened up about it.

“We’ve had a young girl who aspires to be a cake maker, who has had a discussion with her mum about working hard at school.

“The whole conversations, unedited, will go to the British Library.”

Claire will be on the project in Lancashire for six months, and although the booth will be moving on after Tuesday, Claire will still be available to record conversations.

“It’s very different from being a journalist,” she added.

“It’s their conversations, they talk about whatever it is that comes to them, and I just become wallpaper.

“Although if I feel there’s something that hasn’t been fully explored, I can jump in and say would you like to say something more about that.

“It’s a very different experience for me, but it’s a lot of fun. For many people it’s like they’re making history.”

Once the conversations are aired on Radio 4, some of them will be aired on Radio Lancashire.

The Listening Project will be at Lancaster Castle until 5pm everyday until Tuesday August 7 and all are welcome.