The Museum of Cambridge has received a generous donation of £25,000 from a local donor to develop and expand its popular crowd-sourced local history website, Capturing Cambridge.

A screenshot of the Capturing Cambridge Homepage.
Capturing Cambridge

One of the largest gifts the Museum has received, this substantial investment is a significant boost to the Museum’s ambitious plans. It will support the development and expansion of Capturing Cambridge, add to the number of community researchers who contribute to the site and increase the number of regular users. The site already receives thousands of visits each month – from both Cambridgeshire and around the world. The donation will support the recruitment of a Digital Engagement Officer who will join the staff at the Museum of Cambridge.

Capturing Cambridge was founded in 2013/2014 by Mill Road History Society, as a way of supporting the people of Cambridge to record their research into their local areas. The project was so successful that the website was made permanent in 2016 and the management was passed to the Museum of Cambridge, who have remained caretakers ever since.

In the last four years, the Museum has received no direct funding to support the continuation of Capturing Cambridge, and has relied on the kindness and dedication of volunteers to maintain the site.

Since 2016, Capturing Cambridge has been expanded to cover villages and towns across Cambridgeshire. An essential resource for all those researching Cambridgeshire’s social history, the site hosts well as over 12,000 entries on houses, streets, villages and towns across the region. The site receives 8,500 visits monthly from users, and receives hundreds of enquiries per year from members of the public.

Capturing Cambridge hosts entries on many aspects of Cambridgeshire’s social history, mapped across the county by location. These include articles exploring the history of:

  • Places lost to history – like this one, on Cambridge Gaol.
  • Local businesses – like this one, on Pye on Arbury Road.
  • Buildings and streets – like this one, on the old Bleeding Heart pub in Chesterton High Street.
  • Underrepresented and minoritised histories – like this one, on Cambridge Black Heritage.

Annie Davis, Development Manager with Additional Responsibilities, Museum of Cambridge, said:

‘We are delighted to have received this generous donation from Roger. Capturing Cambridge is an essential component of the Museum of Cambridge’s work with the local, national and indeed international community. This investment will allow us to dramatically expand this work, and secure the future of the Capturing Cambridge website so it is available to all for many years to come. We’re so grateful to Roger for his wonderful support’.

Roger Lilley, Donor and Trustee at the Museum of Cambridge, said:

‘I am so pleased to be making this donation to the Museum of Cambridge. I am lucky enough to have seen first hand the impact that this website has on its users – everyone from those discovering articles about their own house, street or area for the first time, to those who are kind enough to share their years of research with the users of the site. I hope my donation inspires others to make a donation to support the continuation of Capturing Cambridge’.

Mike Petty, Cambridgeshire Researcher, Lecturer and Historian, said:

‘As President of Cambridgeshire Association of Local History I have been concerned that the cuts to the Cambridgeshire Collection and Cambridgeshire Archives have seriously restricted the access by ‘researchers’ of all ages to resources for the better understanding of our local area and its heritage.

Capturing Cambridge has been an outstanding example of how material can be shared online, making it available to every household with internet access, to every laptop and every child.

I am delighted that some of the files that I have uploaded have been useful to this project and am very heartened to learn that this initiative can now be developed to assist even more people to pursue their passion for Cambridgeshire’s past.

Well done, Museum of Cambridge and your supporters’.

For individuals or organisations wishing to offer a donation to support Capturing Cambridge, please donate via our website.

Museum of Cambridge Receives Major Donation to Boost Local History Online

2 thoughts on “Museum of Cambridge Receives Major Donation to Boost Local History Online

  • 22 August 2022 at 10:37 am

    The Capturing Cambridge website is both informative and beautiful, encouraging browsing and clicking further. I recently sent in a query and was answered by Roger Tilley himself. THANK YOU for the donation, best news I’ve heard in months.

  • 22 August 2022 at 12:57 pm

    Great News! And thoroughly deserved for all the work you and your supporters have done! Gratifying, after quite a few yeasr of insecurity.

    Cameron Hawke-Smith
    former director

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