On 10th September 2017, the ‘In the Wrong Place, at the Wrong Time’ team held a free heritage open day for the public at Lofthouse Gate Working Men’s Club. The purpose of the day was to explore the hidden history of Lofthouse Park, one of Britain’s internment camps during the First World War. Now comprising a combination of housing estates, car parks and convenience stores, the site of Lofhouse Park is virtually unrecognisable from its World War One era incarnation. Dr Claudia Sternberg and David Stowe organised the day to provide descendants, local people and World War One history enthusiasts with the opportunity to engage with this difficult and often forgotten history.
David Stowe led a guided tour of the sites that would have comprised the former Lofthouse Park Internment camp where Germans, Turks and Austro-Hungarians were interned during the war. Participants in the tour were introduced to the testimony of Paul Cohen Portheim. They were also shown the sites of South Camp, North Camp and West Camp and told about the organisation of the institution, particularly the daily routine of its prisoners, many of whom were from the social elite of early nineteenth century, Anglo-German, German and European society. There is currently no commemorative plaque to mark the camp, but Claudia, Dave and illustrator Louise Atkinson have put together a map of Lofthouse Park to encourage members of the public to engage with its First World War history.
Led by Dr Nick Baron, The COREL Project (Curating Online Resources for Engagement and Learning) has been working with the Life Lines community group in order to develop an easy to use and accessible online platform for presenting textual materials. A work in progress, it is hoped that the final platform will enable the display of documents held by archives, libraries, museums or private collections. In the course of developing specifications and a prototype of the platform, the COREL project worked with World War One era documents contributed by Life Lines members as well as materials from the University of Nottingham’s Sir George Buchanan collection. As part of the co-productive elements of this project, Nick employed Culture Syndicates, a Nottingham based Heritage and Arts consultancy company. This was in order to assist with building the relationship with Life Lines and organising key activities like focus groups. I caught up with Nick and Charlotte Pratley, Director of Culture Syndicates. We discussed the contribution that companies like Culture Syndicates make to the co-production process between universities and community partners.
On 7th October 2017, Lakeside Arts will be hosting a performance of the Centre for Hidden Histories sponsored show, ‘The Sherwood Foresters of 1916’. Developed with Professor James Moran (English, University of Nottingham), Professor Fintan Cullen (Art History, University of Nottingham), theatre director, Sarah Stevenson and performed by Year 9 students at Hall Park Academy, the play seeks to uncover the hidden narrative and the unheard voices of the Sherwood Foresters who fought during the Easter Rising of 1916. Of the significance of this research project in uncovering a difficult and provocative ‘hidden history’ of the First World War, James commented:
“Our research examines the legacy of the Sherwood Foresters who fought during the Easter Rising in Dublin. These men, from Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire in the English Midlands, suffered the greatest casualties of the British regiments involved in the insurrection, and participated in the firing squads that executed the rebel leaders. Yet the public and artistic memorialising of these English soldiers is not widely known, and our interdisciplinary work tells the unfamiliar story of what happened to the Sherwood Foresters after the fighting of Easter Week ceased.”
The Centre for Hidden Histories has supported a number of projects which explore the experiences of Germans in Britain during World War One. We are pleased to announce some news in relation to two of these projects.
The ‘In the Wrong Place, At the Wrong Time’ project has announced a whole series of events both in the UK and Germany for autumn 2017. These include a Heritage Open Day in Lofthouse, Wakefield on 10th September 2017 and the opening of a Lofthouse Park exhibition at Wakefield One/Wakefield Local Studies Library and Museum on 11th November 2017. For full details of the 2017 Lofthouse Park Heritage Open Day, please click here: Heritage Open Day Lofthouse Park Revisited.
Dr Ben Braber, who organised a schools project with the Trent Academy Group has published this research in Midland History, Volume 42, Issue 1. Students from the Trent Academy Group who participated in this project, each contributed one day’s research to the article, “Living with the enemy – German immigrants in Nottingham during the First World War.”
To read the research findings of Ben’s project, please click on the link below for an open access version of his article:
On 19th-21st July 2017, Dr Will Pooley (University of Bristol) organised a British Academy supported conference on ‘Creative Histories’ which was held in the Clifton Pavilion at Bristol Zoo Gardens. I was fortunate to be selected to present a paper. This was on the evaluative methodologies of the ‘Reflection Workshop’ and ‘Shared Experience Workshop’ that the Centre for Hidden Histories team have developed. These evaluative methodologies have provoked discussion about the individual, social and cultural impact of our First World War One university and community partner projects.
The range of conference presentations was incredibly diverse, with talks by Julia Blackburn on the process of writing creative histories as well as panels on ‘colonial archives’; ‘history, creative writing and crime’; and ‘history out and about’ in public. I spoke as part of a panel on ‘public engagement’, which was chaired by Dr Richard Stone and also included a paper by Gisele Lecker de Almeida (Ghent University). Gisele’s paper discussed recent developments in public history in Brazil, including the huge popularity enjoyed by Brazilian historians from across the political spectrum on social media. The discussion at the end of our panel included a consideration of the role played by the UK and Brazilian governments in encouraging or discouraging public history; the impact of political crises on the popularity of public history; and the extent to which social media promotes more top-down or democratic approaches to history. We also talked about how we can shift considering the ‘impact’ of projects from a focus on outputs to considerations of ‘process’ and ’embodied legacies’.