In 1986 the BBC conducted a survey of the country and gave it the rather grand title of “The Doomsday Project” in the vain hope that it may soon become as important to the history of our nation as the original Doomsday Book has been since William the Bastard commissioned it in 1086.
The BBC project was inspired from their sponsorship of a new “home computer” henceforth to be known as “The BBC Acorn”, unfortunately the BBC Acorn was so expensive that only schools could afford it and only then after they were gifted (one per school) by a rather sheepish government campaign.
And so the BBC Doomsday Project became a school project and 11 year old kids all over the country sat at roadsides with pads of paper collecting traffic data to be typed into the schools BBC Acorn computer (singular) by a teacher.
Collated by the BBC the invaluable (according to them) information was then stored on a Phillips Lazer Disc, one copy of which was given to Prince William on the occasion of his birth, the other copy then quickly became obsolete as the Philips Lazer Disc followed the Betamax video player as another technology that failed to capture the public’s imagination, mainly due to its immense cost.
William the Bastards Doomsday Book has so far lasted 925 years, hand written on parchment and now stored at The National Archives – the BBC’s Doomsday Project lasted for all of five years before its recording medium could no longer be viewed, unfortunately no-one had apparently asked for a printed version.
Until now, thank goodness for geeks who know how lazer discs work we all cry, for now the Doomsday Project data has been retrieved and so it was with fluttering heart and shaking hands that I clicked the link to find what life had been like in my home town in 1986 – not that I couldn’t remember of course, its only 25 years ago after all, the year we went to Benidorm with all of Suzannes family, yes all of them, we took up most of the seats on a Dan-Air 727 charter on the infant Airtours package holiday to hell, but enough of me, what was this suburb like in 1986, what did the 11 year old pupils of Cookridge County Primary School have to say in The Doomsday Project ?
A small area of woodland houses many different kinds of vegetation,but is called “The Hollies”because there are many coniferous trees. Although dogs are walked here, there is everything from ants to foxes. The stream down the middle contains sticklebacks,bullheads
and caddis fly larvae. From open fields you can see a dense,built-up city and wonder what will happen to the fields in the next ten years.
Well, not ten but twenty five years later I can answer that young childs question.
Nothing has happened to those fields in the last twenty five years, The Hollies is still there, people still walk their dogs there, ants still live there as do foxes and the stream still contains sticklebacks, bullheads and that curiosity so beloved of Primary School teachers, the Caddis Fly Larvae, they taught me all about the Caddis Fly Larvae at Cookridge County Primary School when I went there in the 1960s, information that I have never felt the need to utilise other than to nod my head sagely when reading the phrase in the BBC Doomsday Project.