Photograph of gipsy woman dressed in broderie anglaise, holding a baby (probably albury, surrey, c.1920s), from a collection relating to albury gipsy school, hurtwood, shere, and gipsy families and traditions, including newspaper cuttings and photographs, c.1920-1932. shc ref: 2570/4

From Oxford’s Gipsy Hill and Windsor’s Tinkers Lane to Worthing’s Romany Road, the historical contribution of Britain’s 300,000 Gypsies and Travellers is hinted at in place names across the south-east of England. Yet despite being here for at least 500 years, the history and culture of Britain’s travelling peoples has rarely been visible within public museums, libraries and archives in the region. But an innovative project, based at Surrey History Centre is set to change all that.

Funded by the European Union and the South East Museum Library and Archive Council, the Traveller Project was designed to encourage greater access to the region’s museums, libraries and archives for the region’s large Gypsy and Traveller population. The project was the British contribution to a 3 year pan-European effort to remove barriers in accessing cultural heritage.

But what exactly is the community’s experience of museums, libraries and archives? And why have heritage bodies been so slow to remember and celebrate one of England’s most interesting and vibrant cultures?

To answer these questions, Romany journalist Jake Bowers travelled across the south-east speaking to Gypsies and Travellers living at the side of the road, in council Gypsy sites, and in houses. He also spoke to those within the community that have dedicated their lives to preserving a largely hidden part of English history.

His report, ‘Private Past, Public Future’, and the appendices, can be downloaded below.

The full report is provided for those with a fast internet connection. Alternatively, if you have a slower connection, the report has been split up into five parts to facilitate downloading. The five parts include the following sections of the report.

Report Part 1 – Front page to page 4

  • About the author
  • Acknowledgements
  • Foreword
  • Summary
  • 1. Introduction

Report Part 2 – Pages 5-16

  • 2. Methodology
  • 3. Findings
  • 4. Private Past

Report Part 3 – Pages 17-19

  • 5. Case Studies

Report Part 4 – Pages 20-32

  • 6. Public Future

Report Part 5 – Pages 33-end

  • 7. Conclusions and Recommendations
  • 8. A Final Word

Files available to download


Private Past – Public Future – Report Part 1 (443.4 KB)

Private Past – Public Future – Report Part 2 (232.4 KB)

Private Past – Public Future – Report Part 3 (361.2 KB)

Private Past – Public Future – Report Part 4 (222.9 KB)

Private Past – Public Future – Report Part 5 (296.6 KB)

Private Past – Public Future – Appendices (41.0 KB)

Private Past – Public Future – Full Report (1.5 MB)

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