John Peels music collection turned into online museum…

John Peel’s record collection is to be made into an interactive online museum…

Peel’s legendary collection, which contains approximately 25,000 LPs, 40,000 singles and many thousands of CDs, will become part of ”ËœThe Space’, a new experimental digital service conceived and jointly funded by the Arts Council and the BBC.

The Arts Council will provide initial funding while the BBC will provide support and development advice. Further funding will be sought in the future to complete the project and make every record available online. Arts Council England is committing up to £3.5m, while the BBC is contributing to the partnership by developing the technological solutions and providing ongoing support.

Tom Barker, Director of the John Peel Centre for Creative Arts, said: “It is the first step in creating an interactive online museum with access to the entire collection, one of the most important archives in modern music history.”
Frank Prendergast of Eye Film And Television added: “The idea is to digitally recreate John’s home studio and record collection, which users will be able to interact with and contribute to, while viewing Peel’s personal notes, archive performances and new filmed interviews with musicians.”

Sheila Ravenscroft, John Peel’s wife and Patron of the John Peel Centre for Creative Arts also commented, stating: “We’re very happy that we’ve finally found a way to make John’s amazing collection available to his fans, as he would have wanted. This project is only the beginning of something very exciting.”
The Space will initially run from May to October 2012 across various digital media including PCs and smart-phones, it will also be available as a ”Ëœred button’ on-demand service via Freeview HD.

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Phil Newall is 47, from The Wirral - he earns his living not writing about music nor playing music...though sorely wishes he could. He was fortunate enough to see many of the first generation punk bands when they played the U18's matinee shows at Eric's, Liverpool. As an attendee at Eric's he was exposed to punk rock, dub reggae, art rock, and all manner of weirdness; as a customer at Probe Records he was variously served and scowled at by Pete Wylie and Pete Burns - he has written for Record Collector, Whisperin & Hollerin, and Spiral Scratch and wanted to write a book detailing the Liverpool punk scene; however with 'Head-On' Julian Cope beat him to it...and frankly did a much better job.


  1. Oh hang on. I’ve just read it and this is the usual trough for the usual scum to steal taxpayers money. What a f*ckin disgrace. Peel must be turning in his grave (at 45rpm of course. All they have to do is set up a YouTube link and get volunteers to UL Johns collection for free. But oh no that would mean the bbc/london scum couldn’t steal the 3.5 million pounds allocated to this disgusting IT hatched travesty. Peel would want that 3.5 million used for all the great and promising talent out there NOW! When I saw the headline I was “YES”, but now I’m just furious

  2. In fact YouTube has probably covered this obscenity already – how about checking how many of Peels collection are already up there? My guess would be most. No need for new interviews and interaction. That just makes jobs for useless media types who haven’t got the honour to admit that this is a disgraceful and utterly useless waste of 3.5 million pounds and the one anorak-music-lover that would be appalled by this would be JOHN PEEL!

  3. Hi Toby, I think there’s been a misunderstanding along the way (bbc look east made the same mistake so we probably have to accept some share of the blame for not communicating well enough)…

    The Arts Council have put £3.5m into “The Space” – which will include work from 53 chosen projects including Shakespeare’s Globe and many other high profile initiatives. A whole bunch of new digital media, produced throughout the period May – October, and then hopefully available thereafter… it’s not all for making John’s collection available!

    We applied for £85,000 to start the process of making John’s archive available. They have said we have been successful but have not yet confirmed the exact amount we will get (hence us not being explicit in our press release). This money will largely be spent on capturing the collection in situ and then scanning the first 2600 records of it (100 per week during the period of The Space) and recreating that in a virtual 3-d way so people can hopefully ‘walk through’ pulling out records, checking out the scanned artwork and any annotations John made on the sleeve’s.

    The collection hasn’t been catalogued at all so the number are estimates and we don’t really know how organised it all is, so databasing it will also require some of the money.

    Then we want to link to existing footage and uploads, bbc archive’s, peel sessions, youtube clips, provide space for people’s stories and reminicences, linked to the records in the collection, then also do some new interviews with artists featured in the collection. All that just because it’ll be cool, will be volunteers doing it, not easy jobs for london types.

    Hopefully people’s interaction with this will then steer how we can make the whole thing available – the extent we can utlise volunteers and keep costs low, the costs of hosting and providing the whole database with the records digitised to listen to and creat playlists from… the possibilities are really exciting but this really is the first step in the process and much will depend on securing further funding from sources as yet unknown.

    Sorry, waffling… to confirm though: the vast bulk of the work will be done by volunteers – the John Peel Centre for Creative Arts is a wholly volunteer run project and this is really going to stretch our capacity! Bloody exciting though :)

  4. Sounds like a fitting project for John Peel’s collection. It should really give us fans the ability to see how John worked with his record collection and how he made his note and archived things.

    This is living history that people can truly interact with. There will always be music and John Peel was at the forefront of so much of it.

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