Sounds of your place

It started with a chance remark from my mother many years ago.

There were roadworks on Newchurch Road just south of Springhill and the road was closed except for access. This turned a busy thoroughfare into a quiet country lane and Mum commented that it was like the old days as the road was so quiet.

Many years later and I was listening to the owl one night and wondering just which sounds encapsulated a place and how to record and document them. What are the everyday noises which you hear day to day? How many of these are commonplace and how many specific to a place? Is there something about the combination of sounds in your place which tell a story?

So in no particular order, the sounds of Springhill include:
the dawn chorus
the night-time wildlife - owls, foxes and a cat which has been shut out overnight
the hum of traffic in the distance (there is little traffic in Springhll itself)
occasional aeroplanes overhead
the church bells from Newchurch St Nicholas
the chime of Rawtenstall St Mary, on a clear night
the metallic noise made by a miss-hit golf ball hitting the wall of the driving range
the rugby club on the sports field 20 yards away on the other side of the field

then there are the hidden sounds like the bats - noise enough if we could but hear it.

But noises change over time. In Springhill the most obvious example is the sound of cattle entering the abattoir at Johnny Barn about 50 yards away, though we never heard the sound of the killing. This stopped with the closure of the abattoir in the 1980s and that sound is no longer part of the landscape. Similarly the conversion of Springhill farm into ‘des reses’ has removed the sound of the geese, to be replaced by next door’s hens...

So I sat on the lane this evening and just let the recorder run for a few minutes. The tracks are nothing special: a selection of birds, the hum of traffic on the main road, an ambulance in town a mile away, an aeroplane overhead, someone hanging out washing. Nothing distinctive, nothing out of the ordinary, nothing special. But they do represent part of the history of this place at this time. In 30 years it will be different.

sounds Springhill 15 May 2014 1

sounds Springhill 15 May 2014 2

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