Suffolk

Domesday Project shows Suffolk life in 1986

Montage of images of Suffolk from the Domesday Project
Image caption Crown Pools, a May Day fair, Southwold and Felixstowe - as seen in 1986

An extensive account of what life was like in Suffolk in 1986 is being made public for the first time.

Twenty five years ago over one million volunteers in the UK helped collect data for the BBC's Domesday Project.

People were asked 'to capture and record the life and landscape of the 1980s in their area' and over 174,000 entries were recorded.

The BBC has put the content online and is launching Domesday Reloaded to collect information about life in 2011.

The original plan in 1986, 900 years after the original Domesday book, was to have this information available via a special computer at every school, library and university in the country.

However, the content was stored on LaserDisc and by the time it was ready to be rolled out to the public the technology was already on its way out.

So very few people actually got to see the results of everyone's extensive research.

Colourful and mundane accounts

But 25 years later, a lengthy process to move the content to a new website is complete.

On the site you will see how the UK was divided into 3x4km 'Domesday squares'.

In most cases it was local schools who researched and added the descriptions and photographs, but WI branches, scout troops and individuals also helped.

In each area, there are details about housing, shops, key businesses or trades and how people spend their leisure time.

Within this research there are some big questions raised about the future.

"Will the port of Ipswich suffer from the expansion of Felixstowe docks?" asked a Copleston High School pupil, who if still local will have seen the area regenerated and become the home of University Campus Suffolk.

In 1986, the year of the Chernobyl disaster, there was already a nuclear power station at Sizewell (and it had 482 people working there).

Image caption The original content was stored on two LaserDiscs and could be viewed on 'Domesday machines'

The Domesday report says a debate had been going on for two years about whether another one should be built.

Sizwell B eventually got the go ahead and began operating in 1995.

In Ipswich, questions are raised about the future of the airport and whether the BMX craze will outlive the '80s.

But the Domesday project also sheds light on the trivial and mundane.

There are details of what time individuals went to bed, what they ate for dinner and what clothes they wore.

In Leiston, we learn that 'children's clothes were mostly made of man made fibre'.

And for the more fashion conscious: "Lots of children like to wear T-shirts. These T-shirts sometimes have pictures like a horse's head and some have writing like RELAX!

"Track-suits were invented for sport. But they are so comfortable that children wear them all the time."

In the west of the county there's a snapshot of what was being reported in the news, on 5 July 1985.

The Bury Free Press carried an appeal for the parents of an unknown baby to come forward and on the letters page "the two main topics were spiritualism and pre-school education".

Domesday Reloaded

The Domesday Project provides a fascinating insight into local life in the 1980s, but how much has changed?

The next stage of the project is to update the information to reflect life in 2011.

Take time to explore the Domesday site and then submit your own stories, comments or photographs.

Full details, packs to download and some helpful tips can be found on the get involved section of the website.

You can also watch the full story of how the ambitious Domesday project failed 25 years ago: The Domesday Project story.

On Monday, 16 May Lesley Dolphin will be at the Ipswich Waterfront taking a closer look at Suffolk's entries in the Domesday Project.

Join Lesley on BBC Radio Suffolk between 12.30-4pm.