BBC Domesday Reloaded paints picture of Wiltshire

Brunel Centre
Image caption The shops which were housed in Swindon's Brunel Centre in 1986 were very different to those there now

In 1986, the BBC ran a Domesday project asking people across Britain to help paint a picture of life in the mid-1980s.

It was inspired by the epic Domesday book commissioned in 1085 by William the Conqueror, who invaded England in 1066.

He wanted to find out how much land and resources were owned in England, so he could raise tax on it.

Twenty-five years ago, the BBC divided an Ordnance Survey map of the UK into 3km (1.9 miles) by 4km (2.5 miles) rectangles, called D-blocks.

These areas were allocated to schools, Women's Institute groups, scout troops and - sometimes - enthusiastic individuals.

The BBC asked these people "to capture and record the life and landscape of the 1980s in their area, using photos and text".

Valuable insight

Some 9,000 of the blocks were completed, generating 24,000 images and 150,000 pages of text.

In Wiltshire, residents commented on everything from issues affecting their local area to the seemingly trivial - all of which gave a valuable insight into life 25 years ago.

Image caption The newly-built West Swindon Centre was snapped by SJ Badcott in 1985

Groundbreaking 'failure'

Domesday 1986 was a groundbreaking project and hugely successful at gathering information.

But in one important aspect it was a failure: the data was preserved on then state-of-the-art laser discs and was never accessible to the public.

Now that is going to be put right as the BBC finally publishes all of the 1986 Domesday community data online.

It's a fantastic record of life a quarter of a century ago - and we did it all without the help of email and the internet, so the potential to gather information in 2011 is enormous.

The BBC is asking you to help paint a picture of what life is like in the UK in 2011, compared with 25 years ago.

Britain has been split up again - using the same grid - for Domesday Reloaded, which runs until November.

We want you to explore the photos and articles from 1986 to find out how life in Britain has changed today... and how some things have stayed the same.

Maybe you have information or an image which can update what was submitted in 1986? This can all be done via the Domesday Reloaded website.

Collectively, these many small stories should reveal a bigger social history of Britain over the last quarter of a century.

Everything we gather will be preserved for future generations at The National Archives in Kew.