A PROJECT celebrating the lives and memories of West Dorset people has been unveiled in Bridport.

Volunteers from the Spinning Yarns oral history project have interviewed over 120 people to create an archive of recollections of life in the area. They hope to reach 200 by the end of September when the project ends.

Recorded memories on topics such as fishing, farming, net making and home life, and photographs of those interviewed, will be preserved in an archive at the Local History Centre in Gundry Lane and on the Spinning Yarns website.

An exhibition based on the work has also opened in the Keech Gallery at Bridport Museum.

It offers the chance to watch a specially commissioned film with voiceovers by those interviewed and to hear a radio show created by three primary schools.

Spinning Yarns project officer Catherine Simmonds thanked everyone who helped with the project including the 18 core volunteers who carried out the interviews and transcribing.

She said: "We wanted to put together a gallery made up of faces and voices - to give a real sense of presence to the different people who have lived and worked in this area and who have shared their memories with us.

"We hope there will be something for everyone - for locals, visitors, young and old, and the new gallery will serve as a reminder of how important recorded recollections can be in helping each generation share in and enjoy their local heritage."

Schools artist Steve Rowley masterminded the Jurassic FM radio show written and recorded by pupils from years five and six at St Mary's, Marshwood, and Bridport primary schools. The children each received a CD of their show this week. Brigid Hillier, a teaching assistant at Marshwood School, said the project gave young people an insight into the past.

"It is a record, a memory for the children involved to see," she said.

Among those interviewed for the project was Dennis Croad who was born and bred in Bridport. He has lived in the same house in Court Orchard since his birth.

He said: "It gives young people a chance to see what life was like in history."

Leonard Rawles, father of local butcher Chris Rawles, was born in St Andrews Road, and has lived there his whole life. He has been involved in the trade since he was young.

He said: "Talking to the children, it is easy to see how surprised they are at how ways of life have changed."

The project was primarily funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with contributions from West Dorset District Council and Bridport Town Council.

Sam Hunt, of the HLF, said: "This project is absolutely terrific. We put in £125,000, which sounds like a lot of money but has been worth it.

"Too often oral history projects are just somebody going out with a tape recorder and taking some recordings that end up in a grey filing cabinet in a museum attic and are soon forgotten about.

"Although this project is due to end this year, it will live on, and that is what history is all about."