Sound archive

  1. The Greater Manchester Sound Archive is held at Manchester Central Library. You can listen to over 5,000 sound recordings at Central Library and at libraries and museums around Greater Manchester.

  2. What's available

    You can browse the archive catalogue for over 35,000 sounds. Click 'search' and use the 'category' field to specify what kind of sounds you are looking for. For example, radio, music and oral history.

    The oral histories collection includes stories of places, dialects, communities, immigration, war, pastimes and industries around Greater Manchester. There are also lots of folk, classical and popular music recordings and radio broadcasts from BBC Radio Manchester and Piccadilly Radio.

    You can listen to some of our collections online at the archives catalogue, including:


  3. How to access

    If we hold an electronic copy at Central Library you don't need an appointment to listen. Over 2,500 sounds have already been digitised. The catalogue will state that you can listen to the recording on the sound archive iPad in the search room. Just bring a pair of headphones and make yourself comfortable.

    If the copy is held on tape or elsewhere around Greater Manchester you will need to make an appointment to listen.

    If the original sound recording has not yet been copied email and we will give you a quote to have it digitised.

    If you can’t find what you're looking for email

    You’ll find a selection of short clips at our Soundcloud page.

  4. Related information

    Unlocking Our Sound Heritage is an ambitious partnership project led by the British Library and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Sounds held on physical formats like cassette and open reel risk being lost as the carriers degrade over time and the equipment to play them is no longer produced. The project aims to preserve and transform access to the nation’s sound heritage.

    Archives+ at Manchester Central Library is the hub partner for the North West region, which covers Cumbria, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside. The hub will digitise around 15,000 recordings on 5,000 cassette and open reels held all over the North West. The British Library will archive the digital files and provide access to a proportion of them online. We will create a sustainable centre of excellence in digital audio preservation at Manchester Central Library, recruit volunteers and involve new audiences in engaging with their audio heritage in innovative ways. Find out more about our region's work at the North West Sound Heritage blog.

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