Sydenham Freeserve in 1998, Sydenham Town in 2000 & 2008
The website began as Sydenham Freeserve in 1998.
We had some free webspace came with a Freeserve account. What to do with it? We couldn’t think better than putting some photos of Sydenham Road with a short commentary on behalf of the local Rotary Club. The members, particulary those with shops in the photographs were intrigued. So we left it there.
In 1999 we registered sydenham.org.uk and moved the website onto our own servers. We changed the name to Sydenham Town. We approach Lewisham Council with a proposal to develop a comprehensive community website at no cost to the benefit of both local business and schools.
Lewisham decided to go ahead with a government grant and pay a Yorkshire company to provide an official ‘TownTalk’ website. We decided to put Sydenham Town on ‘care & maintenence’.
In spring 2004 we were surprised to find the dormant Sydenham Town the most popular Sydenham site by Google ranking. Sydenham TownTalk was not being updated and much information was wrong. Indeed there was not much information at all.
Sydenham Town was not in a much better state. So we had to decide what to do. Abandon it – or try and make it useful?
But then there is more to life than money – and an old internet tradition of sharing skills for the benefit of the community. Anyway we started to beef up the content and think about where it should go.
We also felt that a community website has to belong to the community – we can only be facilitators. However, fast changing websites and committees are not good bedfellows so we elected to set up a Town Forum. This gives everybody an equal opportunity to express their views and share their knowledge. It enables us to tap into the latest local news for the website content. We hope it will provide guidance on where we should go and instant criticism if we don’t.
70,000 posts later we relaunched the current version of Sydenham Town in 2013. We took the opportunity to simplify it and break it down into its component parts. Each is a part of the Sydenham WordPress Network (WordPress MultiSite) making it more easily updateable by a group of editors. All we need is those editors!
It is also part of our remit to help create, link and integrate a ‘Sydenham Cloud’ of websites, blogs and other internet resources to connect people to news, views, comments and be able to feedback their own ideas.
The Sydenham Town Network is operated pro bono by Brainstorm Systems Ltd in Sydenham. More information «here»