The National Trust's Sound Of Our Shores campaign

A detail from the campaign website
A detail from the campaign website

What is it?

The National Trust has teamed up with the British Library and the National Trust for Scotland to create a coastal sound map for the Sounds Of Our Shores campaign.

People are being asked to record and share their favourite sounds from British shores to help build a crowd-sourced soundscape of the nation’s coastline. The campaign was launched this week and will run for three months until 21 September.

The sounds recorded, whether on a smartphone, tablet or hand-held recorder, can be uploaded to the map through the Sounds Of Our Shores audioBoom website. Participants can also share their sounds on social media using the hashtag #shoresounds.

The coastal sounds will be hosted on a sound map on the British Library website and added to the British Library Sound Archive for future generations to listen to. It will also provide live data to scientists and researchers, revealing how the UK sounded at a given moment in time and enabling them to identify changes in our natural environment over time.

What sounds are being gathered?

It is hoped that people will upload between 3,000 and 5,000 sound clips. In the first three days, more than 100 sounds have already been shared, ranging from the ambient sound of Grimsby docks to seagulls fighting over chips and the wind rustling through marram grass.

How is the campaign being promoted?

The three participating organisations are promoting the campaign on social media, monthly e-newsletters and blogs, and offline on posters in costal areas. A "sound of the week" will be shared on audioBoom every Monday during the three months of the campaign to remind people it is happening. An online poll for the UK’s favourite coastal sound will also be run, in collaboration with the BBC, in August.

Why now?

The project coincides with the 50th anniversary of the National Trust’s Neptune Coastline Campaign, which enabled the charity to purchase hundreds of miles of coastline. Thanks to the campaign, which was launched in May 1965, the trust now manages 775 miles of coastline in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

What else?

Martyn Ware, a founder member of the bands the Human League and Heaven 17, will be using the sounds submitted by people to create a new piece of music for release in February 2016.

What the charity says

Catherine Lee, a community and volunteering officer at the National Trust and a former sound recordist, said: "Visitors to the coast can record their footsteps in the sand then play it back a few days later and suddenly you’ll find yourself transported back to the moment you were walking. Or maybe record the sound of people ordering and eating ice creams, the waves crashing against the rocks, the seagulls calling – it’s all totally unique.

"Sound has a wonderful way of bringing us back to a moment in time, a place or an emotional space."

Third Sector verdict

It’s an engaging call to act – most of us have the means of easily capturing sound on our mobile phones and the thought of helping to save something special for posterity is emotive. Seaside sounds are very evocative and adding a personal experience to a sound map will appeal to many people and encourage them to take part.

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