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An Archive for Food

From pike to production lines, cruets to chop suey. Historian Polly Russell presents a guide to the highlights of a unique food archive of life stories held at the British Library.

In the British Library there is an archive of life story sound recordings which tells the true story of how our food has changed over the past century. Until now, this collection has been accessible only by visiting the British Library. Now, for the first time, the 'National Life Stories project' is being made public online. Featuring hundreds of voices, and thousands of hours of interviews, it is one of the most comprehensive and revealing resources we have on food in the UK. Contributors range from chefs like Shaun Hill and Albert Roux, to biscuit factory managers, from butchers to apple growers.

In this edition, The Food Programme is collaborating with the British Library to bring you highlights from the 'National Life Stories' archive. Historian Polly Russell picks voices which shed light on hidden parts of the food industry, from restaurant kitchens to the high street. And in recounting these histories to today's chefs, restaurateurs and shop owners, she finds how working in British food has changed.

Presented by Sheila Dillon with Polly Russell & Barley Blyton
Produced in Bristol by Clare Salisbury.

Available now

30 minutes

More stories....

You can explore the National Life Stories Food Collection for yourself here.


Role Contributor
Presenter Sheila Dillon
Presenter Polly Russell
Presenter Barley Blyton
Producer Clare Salisbury


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