Friday, 2 December 2016

Beyond The Point - Local History Project In Essex

Sometimes, things don't go to plan, but that's okay, because I recently had the chance to catch up with one of the guys behind 'Beyond The Point' and had to give the content a new home on my blog. I really enjoyed their website, and some of their documentaries that I've been able to view. Maybe it's because a lot of their content is Essex related, or they just present things in an engaging way, but this is what I wanted history lessons to be like when I was at school.


BTP at Dover Castle

“Never leave the camera at home” that’s the message from Joe Mander, co-founder of ‘Beyond The Point’, a website bringing the history of South Essex to life. If you take the time to look through the photos and documentaries Joe and Liam have made, you’ll realise how true that message is! This is a blog on what 2 young men, their cameras, and their passion, have created.

When I was at school you could have divided our year quite easily into the history or geography camp. I was the latter, and absolutely loved geography at school, but became quite frustrated with the history teaching. I wasn’t inspired, and felt the curriculum was quite narrow. Thankfully for Essex Joe and Liam had a different learning experience, and were able to explore history in a creative way from a young age. “When Liam and I started junior school we set up the ‘History Club’, where we would make small art and craft items on a Friday afternoon. This was everything from Roman belt buckles made from foil, to cardboard pencil pots. We had always enjoyed history and just did this as a hobby.”


BTP at Vange Well
Joe and Liam continue to explore history in creative, traditional ways, and combine this with technology, to film, photograph and digitally preserve content on historic sites and abandoned buildings. Even ruins and former factories/farmland have made it onto the site. Recognising the role technology can play in connecting people of all ages with history has been an important one, and helped the site grow from a modest blog into a full website and hobby organisation. Joe comments that, “Back in our early days all we had was a horrible history book. Now kids can learn about their history through fun interactive games and videos, which is a really good thing. I think technology has played a big role in changing how people learn about history, now that it is much more accessible for everyone. You can find information in minutes.”

Search the ‘Beyond The Point’ website, and in ‘minutes’ you will find articles on medieval food, the Guildhall and Roman Amphitheatre in London, the gunpowder plot, and Dutch Cottage in Canvey Island. It’s a mix of museums, general historical articles, visits to historic sites, and public land with a story. Then you come to the documentaries.

I have a point and click camera, and just hit record on my videos, but the pieces Joe and Liam film and edit are full documentaries, covering the familiar tourist trails, areas around where they grew up in South Essex, and uncovering lesser known places.


Filming For Their New Website
“Hadleigh Castle is one of South Essex’s most notable tourist ruins, but we are fortunate enough to know that directly adjacent to it you can find a Second World War gun battery, viaduct, pond, and jetty, over a century old, all unmarked. The sheet multitude and variety of locations we have visited is in itself a rare treat, considering it is such an eye opener to what lies un-signposted within our immediate locality.”


As a hobby, building up ‘Beyond The Point’ to the resource it is today has definitely kept them busy, and helped shape their futures. Joe has a role as an ITN news cameraman, Liam is heading off to university. Joe describes ‘Beyond The Point’ as “the best work experience they could ever ask for” and while both boys are looking to their future careers, with the launch of their new website, and expanding the areas and subjects they cover, something tells me they’ll be uploading content for many years to come.

Find Out More:
Beyond The Point has recently re-launched online, and their new website offers an interactive map to help you digitally explore photo and video content from all the places they have documented, and new guides to help everyone else explore the outdoors – I know I’ll be reading those to pick up some tips. Click over to http://www.beyondthepoint.co.uk/  or find them on Facebook.

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