A treasure trove devoted to folk traditions has been amassed by one man. Now a campaign hopes to give it a proper home
Fans of British folklore are championing a campaign to safeguard a unique archive cataloguing traditions from Britain and Ireland. The collection – of more than 20,000 books, 4,000 tape cassettes and 3,500 hours of reel-to-reel audio – has been amassed by one man. David “Doc” Rowe is a 79-year-old folklorist who has travelled the UK since the 1960s, visiting calendar customs such as the Straw Bear Festival, the Krampus Run or the Hunting of the Earl of Rone.
Director Rob Curry and actor/director Tim Plester set up the crowdfunder, which has been supported by Eliza Carthy, Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman. The co-directors previously collaborated on two acclaimed documentaries about the British folk scene – Way of the Morris and The Ballad of Shirley Collins. They started work at the end of lockdown on a film about Rowe and his annual odyssey around the rituals of Britain, then expanded the project to help him find a permanent home for his archive.