Site enters tenth year
It was in early 1998, that the first pages of a community website for the area began to take shape.
The idea was to build a site which would offer coverage of local news, act as a repository of local information and host a discussion forum on local issues.
Many hours of work followed. Thousands of pages of text were scanned and formatted as more than 20 local history books were added to the site. These were the days when one page took about five minutes to scan and format.
Once local resident even took a flight over the area in a micro light aircraft to provide the site with aerial photographs of the area.
Meetings were held with a number of community groups, including the North Mymms Local History Society and Gobions Woodland Trust, to discuss using their content on the site. All were 100% supportive, and have been ever since.
The first article on the site appeared on 27 June, 1998 and was headlined 'Chancellor’s admissions unfair'.
A week later we set up our first forum. It was called ‘Have Your Say’ and the discussion threads were based on specific local issues, although the first category was called ‘feedback’, because we were keen to find out what people thought of the site.
The first post was from a Brookmans Park resident on 11 July 1998 in which he welcomed the new site and wrote about his wish to set up a local jazz band.
"Terrific effort - hope that the site gets the local support it deserves, and grows as a result. As a local resident, and enthusiastic amateur jazz drummer, are there any other local musos in the area looking for a blow?"
Two days after that first post, on 13 July 1998, we had our first post from overseas when Barbara from the USA found the site and posted in the geneaology section.
“I am having a terrible time locating a Brookman family in England. My great grandmother, Elizabeth Brookman was christened in St. Marlylebone in Dec of 1818. Her father was John, a miller and her mother Julia. Elizabeth married John Haynes and came to the US in 1852. Their son, John Haynes was my great grandfather. Do you know if there could be any connection to Brookmans Park and a Brookman family in that area?"
A puma category was set up in the Have Your Say section after reports of a wild cat being seen in the area. The local resident who reported it wrote, “Leave the cat alone. We all know it lives round here and it isn't a problem...it is a local resident and should be left alone." Two weeks later, on 14 October, 1998, another local resident reported seeing a puma while walking in Gobions.
We then introduced a new forum and tried to widen the debate allowing people to post live and respond directly to posts made by others. That forum was replaced by the current forum two years later.
Unfortunately we don’t have any records of what the front page of the site looked like when it launched, but there are records of later editions from the web archive site.
It’s been a busy 10 years, some said it wouldn’t last, that interest would tail off and that we would get bored. It didn’t and we didn’t. However we are always looking to the future and there will come a time when a fresh team will want to take the site forward. Any volunteers, please use the contact us form.
You can discuss the site's first ten years in the forum. Registered users can join the debate. Registration for the forum is free-of-charge.
Thanks for everyone’s support.
29 January 2008