London Region of U3As

Shared Learning Projects

Welcome to London Region Shared Learning Projects: The Coordinator for Shared Learning Projects in the London Region is Jo Walters. For SLP-related enquiries contact Jo - her details are on the CONTACT page.

Shared Learning Projects (SLPs) provide an opportunity for u3a members to work in partnership with institutions such as museums, galleries, universities, libraries, archives, stately homes and institutes. We offer our time, energy and expertise in return for an opportunity to engage actively in research or some other enterprise to the mutual benefit of all involved. We also have lots of fun.

General information: now that life is returning to some kind of normality, we anticipate an increase in activity during this u3a 40th anniversary year. One benefit which has derived from the long periods of isolation has been the blossoming of remote working, enabling members from across the UK to work together for the first time. A very positive experience. Shared Learning Projects will be highlighted as part of the celebrations including the u3a’s survey of the nation’s high streets and shopping areas in 2020. This project has a lasting legacy with the launch of our iBase system which will be available for collaborative working for 10 years.
New or Ongoing SLPs:
Projects for 2024
Are you up for a challenge?
1.The Transport for London Corporate Archives have recently secured external funding for the digitisation of the Minute books of the London General Omnibus Company (GLOC) from 1855 to 1933.
We now need extra volunteers to fulfil our ambition of making all these transcriptions freely available online by the bicentenary of the first London Omnibus. 1829 – 2029.
If you want to challenge yourself by deciphering mid 19th century handwriting, have an interest in Victorian and Edwardian social history, or are just passionate about horse drawn buses, and we would love to hear from you. Please contact
2.London Parks and Gardens Trust.
We are in the process of setting up a collaborative project with the London Parks and Gardens Trust. This will start in January 2024.
If you are interested in our green spaces, their histories and their development – contact me at:

Current SLPs:
Transport for London Corporate Archives – Revealing the Past.
Throughout 2022 and 2023, a large group of dedicated volunteers have transcribed and indexed the minute books of the Underground Electric Railway Companies (UELR) 1902 – 1933. These resources are now available to researchers online for the first time. This project will continue to develop and grow for the next 5 years. See above for details.
Jo Walters.

Completed SLPs
Cary Ellison Theatre Programme Collection: 2020 - 2023
A collaboration with Kingson University Archives. During the pandemic, several u3a volunteers from across the UK undertook research into the history of their local theatres online The results were submitted to the Archivist at Kingston University and the completed project has since been made available on the Archive’s digital collections site: Digital Collections
As a continuation of the funded project to bring this Collection to new audiences, a second SLP looked at social history through the many advertisements in the theatre programmes. The project involved visits to the archive to see what the adverts told us about:
1. Target audiences and the types of people who were going to the theatre at the time.
The results of the project were demonstrated in a PowerPoint presentation given at the Archive's relaunch event for the Collection on 27th January 2023.

Brunel Museum: 2022
A small team from the SE London network investigated the lives and working conditions of the men who worked to build the tunnel. It was the first tunnel under a navigable river.
The findings have been used as part of an exhibition at the museum.
Leader: Maggie Gravelle.

High Street Project 2020-2022: Following the 2 baseline surveys of their high streets, villages and shopping areas during September 2020 and 2021, photographs and details of the shops and amenities continue to be uploaded by our members to a fully searchable, interactive database with photo and map front ends. iBase Digital Asset Management

Our 1901 Postal Pensioners' Project: Under the guidance of researchers from King’s College London, u3a members in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland have tracked down the life histories of pensioners who retired from the Post Office in 1901. This project, undertaken remotely, was very successful. Zoom sessions with the archivist from the Guardian Foundation, gave opportunities to raise queries and helped to keep the volunteers in touch with one another.

Collaboration with Guardian Newspaper Foundation: Leader Jennifer Simpson. We have undertaken transcriptions of the pitman shorthand notebooks of Clyde Sanger who worked as an African correspondent for the Guardian in the 1960’s. 30 volunteers from different parts of England have transcribed individual notebooks. They were in touch with each other by Zoom and email to compare notes and support each other. The project ended 31st December 2020. More information here: Guardian

Kew Gardens Register Books: "Travelling Plants, Volunteers from u3a have taken part in a collaborative project to transcribe, research and encode the first of Kew Gardens' Register Books (1793-1809), funded by The National Archives. They worked with staff from Kew Gardens and the University of Roehampton to create a digital edition of a key source for the history of botany in Britain. For more information, email us at:

The Power of Petitioning in 17th Century England: September 2019 – March 2020. Leader Peter Cox. This was a 6 month collaboration with Birkbeck University. 6 teams of volunteers investigated the transcribed petitions, researching the petitioners and their communities. The presentation of the findings, due in April 2020 was postponed. It will now take place in spring 2021.

The Cary Ellison Theatre Programme Collection: Summer 2019. Leader Sue Leigh. Cary Ellison was a talent scout who worked for Spotlight. His programme notes cover theatre performances around the UK from the 1950’s to the 1980’s. London Volunteers have started researching these notes, but the project is currently stalled because of access and travel restrictions. Several volunteers from across the UK have undertaken research into the history of their local theatres. This was done remotely and submitted to the archivist at Kingston University.
Below you can see full reports per year but its always good to know that some projects have a legacy which carries on. See a brief update on the WPH project of 2017 here: Pioneering Courage Film. We rarely report on anything about volunteers who take on new roles within an organisation and continue to contribute to research etc.

For a report on the year 2022-23 click here: SLP Report, 2022-23
For a report on the year 2019-20 click here: SLP Report, 2019-20
For a report on the year 2018-19 click here: SLP Report, 2018-19
For a report on the year 2017-18 click here: SLP Report, 2017-18.
For a report on the year 2016-17 click here: SLP Report, 2016-17.

Click on a picture below to see it full-size with more details.