Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums

Exterior image of the entrance of the Discovery Museum, looking upwards

Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums (TWAM) is one of 10 UK-wide partners who are helping save the nation’s sounds as part of the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project.

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Representing the North East and Yorkshire, the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage team based at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM) has digitally preserved thousands of recordings, which help bring to life the rich history of the region and wider UK, through traditional, pop and world music, drama and literature readings, oral history, local radio and wildlife sounds. The recordings were not only preserved, but made accessible through learning and outreach programmes across the region.

TWAM is a major regional museums service managing nine museums and galleries across Tyneside, and the Archives for Tyne and Wear. Our vast collections cover archives, art, archaeology, costume and textiles, military, social history, science and industry, natural sciences and ethnography. TWAM has worked with content contributors from across the North East and Yorkshire, to ensure the preservation of a rich and diverse range of recordings:


The Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project has revealed so many surprising, wonderful, and thought provoking recordings that tell the stories and achievements of real life. Some are inspiring, whilst others can be sad or even scary. The project has revealed popular and classical music from years gone by, some we’ve never heard before, and some that are still popular today. News reports from over the decades, hearing the news of war, of strikes, of ‘current events’ as they were reported at the times, rather than how they are written in textbooks. Standout collections include:

  • Dialect recordings and interviews with showpeople at fairs (with the sounds of the fairs in the background).
  • A wealth of oral history interviews, radio broadcasts, performances, music, informational pieces and sounds of the railways.
  • BBC Radio Sheffield broadcasts covering topics such as the Steel Strike, Miners’ Strike, and World War One reminiscences.
  •  A selection of oral history interviews, lectures and discussions on topics including the Hartlepool bombardment, shipbuilding, social history.
  • Interviews from a range of sources about the work that women did during the Second World War, such as working in the munitions factories, shipyards, and on the farms.
  • Recordings of live classical performances dating between 1903 to 1969.
  • And not forgetting recordings of Sparkie Williams, the prize-winning talking budgerigar.


Find out more here:

Blog: Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums Blog



Compressed magenta sound-wave graphic. Logo for Unlocking Our Sound Heritage. National Lottery Heritage Fund crossed fingers logo


Unlocking Our Sound Heritage

Unlocking our Sound Heritage is a UK-wide project that will help save the nation’s sounds and open them up to everyone.

All projects