ESRO, wonderful ESRO

We've making a lot of ERSO visits at the moment and no doubt will be doing so for some time yet.
Recently, I mislaid a notebook with the references to some great finds from an earlier visit and had to spent several hours hunting it down, in order to return to the relevant documents. It was very worthwhile, a series of large scale plans of central Brighton, with a gazetteer listing the prooperty interessts within the featured area. All this drawn for railway companies.
Really valuable resources, as lots of detail and much produced before the first large-scale OS Map.
QDP 335/1 and /2
QDP 288/1 and /2
also worth a look, QDP 413

Our volunteers' census thoughts

With the 2011 census concluded, we thought we would ask some of our regular volunteers working on historic census materials for their views on the most recent survey.

Phyllis, herself a former census enumerator, thought the size of the modern census was a little intimidating, when compared with the relatively few questions asked in the historic censuses to which we have access (those up to 1911). She also commented on how nice it is for today's enumerators that the census is now machine readable.

Like Phyllis, both Gilly and Chris thought the 2011 document a little on the large side - but both reported that they had no problems completing the form, once they sat down and got to grips with it!

Quite a few volunteers reported that they positively enjoyed completing the form and commented that filling it in made them review their lives: what had happened to them over the last 10 years, the places they had lived in, events around the world, etc. Also, there was a sense that participation in the census brought with it a sense of being counted and being a part of history.

Intriguingly, one volunteer had heard of a rumor that the census was to be used to track down those wanted by police force and security services. I wonder what will be revealed in 100 years, when the 2011 records go public!

Even more pre-registration activity

With the Meridian Tonight news broadcast about the census and the MHMS project having just concluded we can now announce that a total of 172 people have pre-registered for user accounts.

Once again, thanks to all who have expressed interest in the project. We look forward to working with you shortly.

Pre-registration for User Accounts very high

If you click the Register link on the MHMS website you are told that the site is not yet fully live and is currently unable to complete User Account registrations. However, you can currently fill in the Register form to pre-register for a User Account (this will be activated and you will receive a notification by e-mail as soon as the full website goes live and with an account you can input data to the system and help us grow the records offered).

As of the first Meridian Tonight news broadcast about the project, we received 55 pre-registrations, way above our expectations.

Thanks to all who have expressed interest in the project. We look forward to working with you shortly.

Official website launch!

The new MyHouseMyStreet website, developed with the assistance of an HLF grant, is launched today. it's taken us over two years to get from initial concept to this point and it's wonderful to see the new site go live.

Not all of the functionality is yet implemented but it’s great to see this day, at last. The remainder of the site's capabilities will be added over the next few months as testing is completed. To stay abreast of what's happening with the website and the larger project, sign up for our MHMS newsletter, via the website.

The blog component of the new site has been available to users for some time now and the first entries have appeared. I wonder what the first blog to appear will be, now we have launched the website!

- - - - -

By way of a recap as to how the MHMS project has arrived at its current status, I've set out a brief timeline below:

Brighton & Hove Open Door 2008 - trial of a new concept we christened The Foundry Street Event.

Brighton & Hove Open Door 2009 - an enlarged trial of The Foundry Street Event, involving four streets, the events now christened: MyHouseMyStreet.

Brighton & Hove Open Door 2009 was a great success. There were more events and more participants than ever before and we noted a hugely positive response. Griff Rhys Jones, the Heritage Open Days team and English Heritage representatives came down to join in with BHOD and we received a lot of press coverage.

Late-2009, we resolved to take on the challenge of developing an even larger BHOD event than was staged in 2010 and to find a way of further developing the MHMS project.

Over Christmas 2009 and early-2010, we held long MHMS planning meetings and concluded that to evolve the project meaningfully we were going to have to secure a grant from the HLF.

By mid-2010, we had assembled a MHMS development plan and an application for HLF funding.

Our proposals called for improved website interactivity, offering visitors the means to contribute commentary, information, and source materials. We wanted to provide a compelling online experience for MHMS website visitors and a great outreach programme.

In July, we completed our Heritage Lottery Fund application. By early-September we were informed that the application had been successful.

It was then time to turn our attentions to the 2010 Brighton & Hove Open Door festival. MyHouseMyStreet returned to our local streets.

Somehow, even with everything else going on we still managed to increase the number of activities offered and the attendance over 2009 figures. The weather rather interrupted our BHOD plans and much of the work prepared had to be taken to the Brighton Dome and exhibited there due to the rain but still enthusiastic people found us and offered assistance with future development.

The HLF funded project really got going after BHOD 10. We were now considering the interfaces of the website, how visitors might interact with the system, we were developing wireframes - representations of the bones and muscle of a website that outline the structure and functionality - the skinning of the site with a graphical design.

Our initial sketches were grand in scale, and included Facebook style messaging features and all sorts of features that we later agreed visitors would not prefer. 

At times, it felt that progress was painful. However, as we went around the issues again and again and negotiated with partners to obtain features that would improve the eventual website beyond anything we had initially imagined, we could see the potential and promise forming and it kept us all working.

As we entered in 2011, the wireframes were mostly complete and the graphical look of the site established. By February, the final build process was underway.

As icing on the cake, Meridian Tonight contacted us with a view to creating TV news programmes about the upcoming 2011 UK Census and linking these to the MHMS project. What a fantastic way to spread the work about the work we are doing.

We have created the means for those interested in the project to sign up for a regular MHMS newsletter and to pre-register their interest in collaborating with the project as Account holders.

Now it's time to assess response to the offer.

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