June has been a busy month for Centre for Hidden Histories representatives.
On Friday 23rd, the University of Derby held an afternoon symposium on ‘Community, Identity and Commemoration’. Centre for Hidden Histories Co-Investigator, Professor Paul Elliott gave a lecture on ‘World War One: Recovering a Hidden History of the Home Front’. Discussing the use of public parks in war-time, with particular focus on Derby, Paul showed the importance of the parks as sites for a range of public functions. These included military uses such as practice trenches, recruitment, drilling grounds and defensive gun emplacements. Parks were also used for civic functions as sites for hospitals, schools and crop growing. Finally, parks provided a forum for spaces of social gathering, from arenas of leisure for troops on leave to communal areas for anti-war meetings and pacifist demonstrations.
On Saturday 24th June, Professor Mike Heffernan’s community partners the Ramgarhia Social Sisters participated in the day long community history event, Military History Live at Leicester’s Old Library Cafe and Galleries. Representatives of the Sikh community, the Social Sisters were displaying their tapestry panels which have been crafted in order to commemorate the contribution that Sikhs made to the British First World War effort. Also, on display were examples of the community research which contributed to the Social Sisters project as well as the posters that were produced as a result of Leicester Council’s First World War Family Learning Project with Bridge Junior School. Engaging with parents and pupils, The Ramgarhia Sikh Sisters visited Bridge Junior School as part of the Family Learning Project.
On Saturday 24th June the Ramgarhia Social Sisters First World War tapestry will be on display as part of Military History Live at the Old Library Cafe and Galleries in Leicester. Professor Mike Heffernan (University of Nottingham) has acted as a historical advisor on the Social Sisters project. There will also be presentations of subsequent work completed by children from Leicester as part of a follow-on family Learning project.
Military History Live will be open between 10am and 4pm. The address for the event is: The Old Library Cafe and Galleries, Leicester Adult Exchange College, 54 Belvoir Street, Leicester, LE1 6QL.
On 24th April 2017, Professor John Beckett, Community Liaison Officer Mike Noble and myself convened a Reflection Workshop with community partners at The Library of Birmingham. Community partners shared their stories of planning, creating and bringing to fruition their First World War commemorative projects which have been supported by the Centre for Hidden Histories as well as frequently funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
“I’ve developed people skills and project management to a degree… Just being out with the community connected with me... There’s an event taking place on the 22nd June  which is the first African-Caribbean memorial being laid in the UK, it was unveiled a couple of year’s ago but its being in-laid in London outside the Black Cultural Archives, and from having the skills and the contacts… I have become involved in creating that… high profile event… This comes from having the skills and the background developed from this project.”
“Recognize is now known for delivering World War One projects…We’ve brought out stories that are hidden, but they’ve actually been right under the noses of people… My next door neighbour, I’ve known him for thirty years now, he saw me with my uniform on the other day, and he said I must tell you my great, great grandfather fought in the First World War…What made it more fabulous is that at home… he’s got all of his old medals and they are all in tact… Sometimes it’s not that the stories are hidden…it’s just that people have not had the platform to share that story.”
The insights collated from this reflection workshop will form a key part of a paper that I am giving at the University of Bristol’s ‘Creative Histories’ conference (19-21 July 2017). This will be in relation to Keri Facer and Bryony Enright’s idea of the ’embodied legacies’ of community research projects.
In Flux, a play produced by Excavate and supported by the Centre for Hidden Histories was performed at Nottingham Playhouse’s Neville Studio on Saturday 8th April. It is a series of dramatic monologues about how Western imperialism in the Middle East during the First World War intersects with the history of the present. Discussing Andy Barrett’s script, Jasim Ghafur, a Nottingham based visual artist whose work is included in the show, commented:
“Andy… beautifully interweaved many different aspects of history to draw attention…to the historical reality that imperialist powers including the UK, have significantly influenced uncertainty and political instability in the Middle East…Kurdistan is a prime example of the political outcome of colonialist strategies after the First World War.”
In Flux attracted a sold-out audience of 75 people. Tickets were offered free of charge. There was a collection afterwards for the Red Cross Tuesday Night Group which provides English language support to asylum seekers arriving in the city of Nottingham.
To see Andy Barrett and performer Sara Altan talking about In Flux for Sikh Channel Aid as part of World Refugee Week (19 – 25 June 2017), click here.
Performer Adel Hamad is pictured in the top right hand image.
On Sunday 8th April, Dr David Amos hosted the finale of his Harworth Colliery in World War One project at Worksop Library. Funded by the Centre for Hidden Histories and produced in association with Nottingham Trent University and David’s not-for-profit community interest organisation, Mine2Minds Education, the project explored the ‘hidden history’ of the controversial development of Harworth Colliery in Nottinghamshire during the First World War.
The controversy focused on the involvement of German industrialists in a strategically important British industry (coalmining); later it was to centre on the character of Arnold Lupton, an academic, Liberal politician and mining engineer who founded the Anglo-German North Union Mining Co Ltd, which initially started developing Harworth Colliery in 1913. Along with his pacifist views Lupton was jailed during the war for his protests against the Government for its actions over Harworth (he chained himself to the railings in Downing Street). During the First World War, German workers from Harworth colliery were interned and the Company’s property and assets eventually impounded under the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1916.
David has been leading a team of community researchers to look into this difficult, yet fascinating and important history. The team conducted research in the Library at the National Coalmining Museum for England as well as at Kings Meadow Archives (The University of Nottingham) and at Bircotes, Worksop and Mansfield Libraries. The results of the team’s work were on display at Worksop Library on 8th April.
Comments by attendees at the launch included:
“Fascinating – a story I had not come across…Great presentation – excellent booklet – ideal location.” (Rob Armstrong, Retired)
“I learnt for the first time, how the war affected German companies and their employees…I used new research resources I did not previously know such as the National Mining Museum and Nottingham University Archives.” (Jim Dymond – Harworth Colliery Researcher)