Skip to main content  

Unlocking Our Sound History project - James Asman Record Shop Westminster, 1972

Image showing the James Asman Record Shop at 24 New Row, Westminster in 1972
Reference: Collage: The London Picture Archive - 141559

  • Radio noise workshop
    Behind the scenes at the ‘making noises’ workshop of the 2LO radio station, 1924
    ​Behind the scenes at the ‘making noises’ workshop of the 2LO radio station, 1924
    Reference: Collage 302670
    Singers performing on stage at the ‘All Together Now’ festival, 1978
    ​Singers performing at the ‘All Together Now’ festival, Deptford 1978. Reference: Collage: 294087

​Unlocking Our Sound Heritage, London Metropolitan Archives

Sound collections are under threat, both from physical degradation, and as the means of playing such sounds disappear from production. Professional consensus internationally is that we have approximately 15 years in which to save many of our sound collections through digitisation, before they become unreadable and are effectively lost.” - Will Prentice, British Library

London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) is one of ten regional hubs across the UK to join the British Library’s Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Other regional hubs include National Museums Northern Ireland, Archives+ in Manchester, Norfolk Record Office, National Library of Scotland, University of Leicester, The Keep in Brighton, Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, National Library of Wales and Bristol Culture.

This ambitious project is part of the wider Save Our Sounds programme, which aims to:

  • Digitally preserve almost half a million rare and at-risk sound recordings
  • Establish a network of audio preservation centres across the UK
  • Engage more people with the value of sound recordings

Between 2018 and 2021 LMA aims to digitise and catalogue 5,000 sound recordings, from our audio collections as well as those held at local archives, universities, museums and galleries across the Greater London area. These cover everything from oral histories to world music, academic lectures to urban soundscapes.

Over the coming months we’ll be posting updates on the project via LMA social media channels and our blog, London’s Sound Heritage.

Volunteer with us

​We are looking for volunteers to help us support three main areas:

  • Cataloguing and Research
    In this role volunteers will help prepare collections for digitisation and develop knowledge around project collections, working on transcripts and researching people and events
  • Audio Digitisation
    In this role volunteers will support the digitisation of audio material and use sound editing software to edit recordings for our learning and engagement programme.
  • Learning and Engagement
    In this role volunteers will have the opportunity to work with our sound recordings, once fully digitised and catalogued, to engage audiences through training workshops, social media, public events and more.

For more information about how to volunteer at LMA, email the Audio Digitisation Team.

Learning and Engagement

​Our public engagement programme will include several key areas over the three years:

  • Sound Festival and workshops
    Enabling local people to be involved in the creation of their own event, while exploring the technical aspects of making and preserving recordings and provide opportunities for creative responses.

    In particular, the project will collaborate with different London partners to deliver a series of talks and workshops, working with artists and historians to promote sound collections.
  • Breaking the Silence
    A week-long summer college which will include in-depth workshops around the gathering, preserving and sharing of sound recordings. Its aim: to support primary/secondary students learn how to explore different sounds through creative projects while also engaging with a wide range of audiences, accessing sound collections for various purposes.
  • Schools workshops in collaboration with British Library
    In the final year of the project, LMA will work with its partner British Library to deliver a number of focused school workshops on sound heritage, engaging and inspiring young people to create their own sounds.


​During the project we will be working with a number of partners to understand more about London’s sound heritage. We will share this information on our blog, where we will also provide resources to help you look after and research your own collections.

Sound Maps and Websites:

Our Content Contributors

​We are working with a number of contributors to showcase the richness and variety of London’s sound heritage. These will include the Tate, National Theatre, Royal Institution and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), as well as borough archives such as Hackney, Brent, and Southwark.