Free Event: Not far from the Front: Discovering the First World War in the South East

Image credit: Seaford Museum & East Sussex WW1

Gateways to the First World War and The Centre for Hidden Histories are working in collaboration with the Heritage Lottery Fund South East team to host a free and open First World War information event on 26th May 2017 at Hastings Museum from 10.00am – 4.00pm.

If you interested in doing something to commemorate the centenary of the First World War in the South East of England or if you want to find out more about unfamiliar parts of the war, and how you can get help from researchers to investigate aspects of the conflict, then this event is for you.

If you have thought of applying to the Heritage Lottery Fund’s First World War: Then and Now grant programme and need help shaping a project, or if you are coming to the end of a funded project and are looking for inspiration for another, then you will find lots to interest you here.

The session will involve presentations from:

  • Professor Mark Connelly (University of Kent) on The Battlefields Revisited Project.
  • Dr Chris Kempshall (East Sussex County Council and Goldsmiths, University of London) on The impact of the First World War on the South East.
  • Susanne Crosby (Sound Architect Creative Media) on two HLF funded projects ‘The Day Sussex Died and Twelve and Sixpence’.
  • Catherine Harvey (Hastings Museum) on the Hastings Remembers project.
  • Sarah Wicks (HLF South East) on The First World War: Then and Now Grant.
  • Mike Noble (Hidden Histories) on the Hidden Heroes of Empire project
  • Liz Robertson (First World War centenary partnership)

There will also be an opportunity to discuss project ideas with engagement centre colleagues, HLF development staff and other community partners in the afternoon.

 Booking is essential and can be done here. We might be able to offer help with travel expenses for community groups to attend this event. You can make a request for this when booking.

Gateways and Hidden Histories are two of five First World War Engagement Centre centres based in universities across the UK. They welcome enquiries from individuals or groups wherever they are located and are especially keen to reach out across the South East for this event. They can connect you with university researchers, recommend archives and resources, advise on documenting and sharing your project and direct you to relevant training. Each centre has areas of particular expertise. You can find out more on the First World War Engagement Centres website.

Launch of the Away from the Western Front project

An Indian Army transport section moves along ‘New Street’ Baghdad during the entry of British forces into the city on 11 March 1917 © IWM (Q 24196)

On Friday, 28th April the Away from the Western Front project held a formal launch event at Islington Museum in London. Away from the Western Front, a registered charity, has received a grant of £99,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for its dynamic First World War centenary project which will explore the heritage of the men and women from Britain and its former Empire who served in the often overlooked campaigns of Salonika, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia and Africa.

The project offers contrasting perspectives on the campaigns and will provide opportunities for local communities to engage with and learn about this global event. The project will also be working with Turkish and Iraqi communities which opposed the Allies in the First World War and with groups originally from India, Pakistan and the West Indies whose forebears volunteered to join the British army.

In addition to a national music event and a creative writing competition the project will be working with several local and regional partners in Devon, Lancashire, Berkshire, Sussex and London. Local museums and National Trust properties in these areas will work with adult community groups, youth groups and schools with funding from the grant to research the lives and stories of those who served in these far away campaigns. Those stories will be brought to life through engaging creative outputs, drama, film, art and music, specifically designed to raise public awareness of the First World War away from the Western Front.

Norman Woodcock in Ismailia Egypt 1916 (courtesy of Susan Burnett)

The event was an opportunity to hear from several of the local and regional partners who will be working with adult community groups, youth groups and schools with funding from the grant to research the lives and stories of those who served in these far away campaigns.

The guest speakers highlighted the varied campaigns, nations and direct experiences of those who were involved in this part of the First World War. Major Paul Knight gave an overview of the campaign in Mesopotamia, which is now modern day Iraq. Susan Burnett drew on her grandfather’s memoirs to discuss his time in the Middle East. Susan spoke of the social issues that her grandfather,

Norman Woodcock encountered, the health problems faced by the troops in the desert and the challenges posed by camels. Tony T’s presentation on the Black British Caribbean service in Palestine told the story of some of the men from the West Indies who took part in the First World War. From a recorded interview we were privileged to hear directly from Gershom Browne about his experiences in the Middle East from his arrival in Egypt from the Western Front in 1916 with the British West Indies Regiment (BWIR), to his role helping to cut off the Turkish retreat at the Battle of Megiddo.

In addition to the HLF award, the project is being supported by grants from the Centre for Hidden Histories and the British Institute for the Study of Iraq (Gertrude Bell Memorial). The latter will enable British students taking part in one of the regional projects to meet Iraqi students of the same age to meet and exchange opinions.

All the results from this project will be presented on a dedicated website offering a long-term digital archive designed for public access and learning. This website was launched at the event:

Event: How the Russian Revolution was made: A view from Siberia

A hundred years ago Russia was convulsed by war and two revolutions. To mark the centenary of the momentous events of that age, Manchester Metropolitan University is  planning two evening sessions with a Russian theme.

The first session will be led by Dr Alistair Dickins, who will explain how the region of Siberia played a crucial role in the shaping of the Soviet system during the first revolution of February/March 1917.

Dr Dickins, a specialist in the history of Russian revolutions of 1917, has taught history at the universities of Manchester, Leeds and Leicester, and has written a number of papers on the subject. After a decade of lecturing in higher education sector, he is now training to be a secondary school history teacher.

Thursday, May 11, 2017, 7.00 pm to 9.00 pm
Room G 33, Lecture Theatre 4 (Ground Floor)
The Business School and the Student Hub
Manchester Metropolitan University
Admission Free, but a donation of £ 2 in aid of the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity will be greatly appreciated.

Free car parking under the Mancunian Way, behind the business School and the Student Hub. Entrance through Chester Street.

Details of the second session will be available shortly.

UPDATE: Booking now open. Event: Community, Identity and Commemoration: Britain and the First World War

UPDATE: Booking now open. Event: Community, Identity and Commemoration: Britain and the First World War

Community, Identity and Commemoration: Britain and the First World War

Friday 23 June, Heap Lecture Theatre, University of Derby, Kedleston Road

The Passchendaele campaign, fought in the Flanders mud, provides many of the most enduring images of the Western Front. It also remains one of the most controversial battles of the War. At this public conference, the continuing reinterpretation of the battle will be discussed as we approach the 100th anniversary of the ‘Battle of Mud’.  The academic controversies concerning the Passchendaele campaign have often reflected differing viewpoints on British identity and the extent to which the War exemplified British values.  The conference will explore how the War impacted on Britain’s communities and the impact it has had on the evolution of a shared identity. It will examine the various ways in which Britain has marked the First World War centenary, examining the social, cultural and political influences that have shaped the commemorations. As the Silk Mill Museum hosts the Weeping Window, from the installation ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ by Paul Cummins, the Conference at Derby University provides an opportunity to discuss what impact the centenary events have had on public knowledge and understanding of the Great War.



13.00:    Welcome

13.15:    Dr Ian Whitehead: ‘The Battle of Mud’: Perspectives on the Passchendaele Campaign, 1917

14.00:    Break

14.15: Professor Paul Elliott: Derby Public Parks in the First World War and Beyond: Recovering a Hidden History of the Home Front

15.00:    Break

15.15:   Christopher Batten, BA (Hons): Life in Ruhleben Camp: Edwardian Britain in Microcosm

15.45:    Thomas Debaere, BA (Hons): Requiem: Foulds, Beaverbrook and a ‘British’ Festival of Remembrance

16.00:    Break

16.15:    Dr Kathleen McIlvenna: Communities, Government and Heritage: The Centenary of the First World War and Public


17.00:    Close


Booking is now open. Please click here to register your interest.

In Flux – First Public Performance

The Centre for Hidden Histories and Excavate Community Theatre are proud to present In Flux, a performance piece that examines the history of borders in the Middle East and the implications of their continuing collapse on those who live in the region and those who are fleeing from the wars that have been unleashed there.

In Flux interweaves three monologues – the history of the secretive Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 which led to the creation of Iraq and was a key influence on the current map of the Middle East; the story of a woman whose sisters all live in Kurdistan and yet find themselves in four different countries; and a young man’s account of how he escaped the war in Syria to travel, via the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean ocean, to Nottingham.

The first public performance will take place at Nottingham Playhouse on Saturday 8th April at 8pm. The event is free but booking is essential.

With projections, live music and performers from England, Bakur, Syria and Iran this should be a provocative and enlightening evening.

There will be a collection after the performance for the Red Cross Tuesday Night Group who provide free English classes and activities to those who have just arrived in the city.

For more information and to book tickets, please visit the Nottingham Playhouse website