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Layers of London

Birkbeck is set to partner in a major new heritage project for London.

A major new project, Layers of London: mapping the city’s heritage, will bring together digitised heritage assets provided by key partners across London. These assets will be linked in an innovative new website which will allow people to interact with many different ‘layers’ of London’s history from the Romans to the present day, including historic maps, images of buildings, films as well as information about individual Londoners and families over the centuries. These layers will be added to by the public, who will be able to upload historical information of different kinds.

This project has been awarded funding of £929,800 by the Heritage Lottery Fund, made possible by National Lottery players. An additional £600,000 is coming from matched funding and other contributions.

Layers of London, which began with a pilot project in 2016, explores how London has changed over its history, and how Londoners have adapted and responded to those changes. The project aims to tell this story across the city as a whole, but with particular reference to local areas, streets, neighbourhoods and even individual buildings. It will be led by Professor Matthew Davies, Executive Dean of the School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy, and will be hosted nearby at the Institute of Historical Research, the School of Advanced Study.

He said: “One of the most important elements of the project will be our work with the public, both at neighbourhood and borough level, and city-wide. We are inviting everyone to contribute material to the project by uploading materials relating to the history of any place in London, such as an old photograph, a collection of transcribed letters, or the results of a local research project. In this way, we hope to uncover and preserve the heritage of people and places across the city.”

The team will be coordinating a large number of volunteer projects across London, working with community and heritage groups of all kinds and with schools in every London borough. At Birkbeck, students on history courses and other related subjects will contribute to the creation of new layers of information about London’s history and heritage as part of their studies.

Other partners on the project include the British Library, London Metropolitan Archives, Historic England, The National Archives and MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology). 

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