Impact: Ramgarhia Social Sisters WWI tapestry on display in Leicester

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.

The Social Sisters at the 2016 Military History Live event.

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.

Impact: Reflection Workshop reveals the ‘Embodied Legacies’ of the Centre for Hidden Histories

Garry Stewart

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.

Community partners who shared their experiences at the workshop included: Garry Stewart (RecognizeBlack Heritage and Culture), Andy Barrett (Excavate), Kiran Sahota (‘Honoring Indian VC Soldiers in World War One’  exhibition), Rosemary Collins (Radcliffe on Trent and the First World War) and Lyn Edmonds (Away from the Western Front).  For example, Garry Stewart, whose organisation has received a Centre for Hidden Histories Community Challenge Fund grant, said of the personal impact of being involved in the commemoration of the First World War Centenary:

“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 [2017] 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.




Event: Images of Russian Patriotism during World War One

Event: Images of Russian Patriotism during World War One

This, the second of Manchester Metropolitan University’s two evening sessions to mark the centenary of the momentous events in Russia in 1917, will be led by Dr. Catherine Danks.

Buy 5 1/2% bonds – War Bonds for Victory.” The twin-headed eagle was the Russian Tsar’s Imperial standard during WWI

At the beginning of the First World War in 1914 the warring peoples and nations of Europe were each consumed by their own fanatical patriotism. They saw the war as an opportunity to test their virility. A major outpouring of Russian patriotism, fed by the vast machinery of Tsarist propaganda, reached its climax between the outbreak of the war and the abdication of the Tsar in February/March 1917. The attempts to persuade the Russian people to support the war effort were made through such innocuous tools of media as photographs, prints, post cards and even paper toys.

Dr. Catherine Danks, Senior Lecturer in History at the Manchester Metropolitan University, is a specialist in Russian Studies, working on Russia-related aspects of a major historical project Hidden Histories of World War One. An active member of the Manchester-St. Petersburg Friendship Society, she has intimate knowledge of St. Petersburg historical archives.


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.


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: