Writing Memoir Combined with Local History

My first published writing project, a 1950s school memoir, has proved a success and left me wanting to stretch myself further. At first I thought I’d work on another memoir, one set in a place close to my heart when I was growing up.

Competitive swimming occupied my teenage years in the 1960s and my time spent in intensive training coincided with the last five years of the local community baths, before a new impressive swimming complex was built and opened. The old baths became like a second home to me and I wanted to write the story of its last years.

The school Centenary I attended in the weekend brought me in contact again with two swimmers from those teenage years and, as one does at a school reunion, we got talking and sharing stories, not just of the old baths but of swimming in our small province. I didn’t realise at the time, but our conversation became a turning point. A new idea crept into my head, planted itself and started the life of a new book.

Next day I shared the swimming conversation with my husband, also a swimmer from the same period. It became obvious a larger story needed telling. I now need to stretch my writing skills and try something a little more challenging.

The story of the old Municipal Baths in my town needs to be told. The baths first opened in 1917 and lasted just short of fifty years before the new swimming complex was opened in 1966. 2016 will mark fifty years since the closure of the special place in my heart.

The baths story will be told through a combination of local history and memoir. My own life story will be intermingled with the life story of this very popular meeting place for the young people of the town. Three years to research, write and produce this story should be more than enough.

I’m quite excited at the prospect of extending myself. I’m hoping my idea of combining the story of my connection with the baths in the last five years along with the wider community story of the baths through its short life will work.

I know challenges lie ahead of me, especially the extensive research needed. I’m looking forward to sharing my story here, both snippets of my life stories and the things I learn about writing along the way. If any readers have attempted this combination of writing memoir and local history before I’d love to learn about your experience.

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10 thoughts on “Writing Memoir Combined with Local History

  1. This sounds like a fascinating concept! I like that’s it’s going to be memoir style, but that you’re also doing your research and finding stories from other people, too. That makes me believe that it’s going to be a genuinely interesting, exploratory, and open read (rather than like some self-indulgent, narrow-minded memoirs I’ve read). I’ve never tried that sort of memoir/history combination, but I think it’s fascinating. I hope it works well for you!

  2. I love history too and this sounds like a lot of fun. The great thing about doing research like this is that we end up learning so much and finding more stories to tell.

    • Thanks for dropping by Sheila. Es, I’ve vbcome really interested in the stories behind the buildings and places.

      • Oh dear, I shouldn’t comment when I’ve just woken up! I’ll try again. Yes, I’ve become should be the two strange words above.

  3. That sounds like a really good idea, Val. I have wonderful memories of our municipal baths. When my friend and I were about eight years old I used to sleepover at her house and we would get up very early, catch the first bus into town, go and have a swim at the baths and get back before my friend’s mother even knew we had gone out. The thing I still remember most is the smell of chlorine and sweaty shoes in the poolside changing huts. I am sure you will get a wonderful book out of this topic.

  4. In reality all of us, of a certain age, who enjoy writing should endeavour to capture our memories in this way, we owe it to future generations so that they may know that there truly was life before mobile phones and computers !

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