In November, I was fortunate to attend the NCCPE Engage conference (29 – 30 November 2016) at the Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel. Sessions included ‘Raising the Bar’ which saw Associate Professor Paul Manners (UWE and Director of the National Centre for Public Engagement) and Sophie Duncan (Deputy Director of the National Centre for Public Engagement) award the first ever Engage Gold Watermark Accreditation to the Centre for Public Engagement at Queen Mary, University of London. Community Liaison Officer, Mike Noble and myself also participated in a highly relevant workshop on the lessons learned from Connected Communities projects, which was led by Katherine Dunleavy (University of Bristol). Other sessions that I participated in included a session on ‘Public Engagement as Method in the Arts and Humanities’ as well as talks on academic and museum partnerships led by Carolyn Sargentson (University of Sussex) and museum representatives of The University of Oxford. Read more
Dr Nick Baron (History, University of Nottingham), Dr Sarah Badcock (History, University of Nottingham) and Dr Erin Snyder (Digital Research Manager, University of Nottingham) have been working with Life Lines community group and heritage consultants Culture Syndicates on the realization of the COREL project (Curating Online Resources for Engagement and Learning). This project is being funded by the Centre for Hidden Histories, the Higher Education Innovation Fund and the University of Nottingham.
On 28th November 2016, the Centre for Hidden Histories was very pleased to support the blessing of a headstone dedicated to the memory of two First World War Belgian refugees, Frans Buyssens and Henri Burghys. Dr Hannah Ewence (University of Chester) has been leading a Centre for Hidden Histories community research project on Belgian refugees who came to Cheshire during the 1914-1918 conflict. Approximately, 250,000 Belgians came to Britain during the First World War, of which approximately 250 resided in Cheshire.
November’s ceremony was the result of research conducted by community historian Alan Lowe (Northwich and District Heritage Society). Lowe discovered that Buyssens and Burghys were the only two deaths in Mid Cheshire. Buyssens, died of Peritonitis aged around ten in February 1915 and Henri Joseph Burghys, also aged around ten, died following surgery at the Victoria infirmary (June 1915). Local chemical industrialist and political liberal, Sir John Brunner paid for the boys funerals in 1915. However, until November of this year, their graves have gone unmarked. Following an approach by Lowe, Tata Chemicals Europe who brought the Brunner Mond Company in 2005, kindly agreed to honour Sir John Brunner’s legacy by paying for the headstone.
Dr Tudor Georgescu’s Centre for Hidden Histories exhibition, ‘Beyond the Western Front: Oxfordshire in the First World War’ is currently being displayed at The Glass Tank, Oxford Brooks (18 November – 16 December 2016). This exhibition is an exploration of the First World War involvement of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry battalion and the Queens Own Oxfordshire in military actions in Ireland, Italy, the Balkans, the Middle East and Russia. Coalescing with the participatory ethos of the AHRC First World War Engagement Centres, the exhibition is the result of research conducted by fourteen local people, museum volunteers and Oxford Brookes students. These project participants are: Jeff Clements, Jane Cotter, Louisa Fagan, Jim Grundy, Peter Johnston, Shelia King, Mark McKay, Jean Mills, Kevin Northover, Paul Otter, John Sheldon, Kathleen Tunnicliffe, Steve Warner and Janet Witcomb.
Centre for Hidden Histories Co-Investigator, Professor Mike Heffernan (Geography, University of Nottingham) has been working with community partner, Satvinder Panasear and the community Learning team at Leicester City Council to realise the Ramgharia Sikh Tapestry Project. Bringing together a tapestry making team from Leicester’s Sikh community, the multi paneled embroidered tapestry which is currently being completed, depicts images representing Sikh involvement in the First World War. The project aims to empower Sikh ladies from Leicester Gurdwara, encourage life-long learning and historical research as well as more broadly, raise awareness of the history of the First World War in the Sikh community. In addition, the project seeks to renew the skills of women in Leicester’s textile industry and connect diverse communities.
The project has received media coverage on BBC Radio Leicester (February 2015), Sahib International Panjabi Magazine (October 2015) and on international Sikh TV channel, Sangat (October 2015). One of the tapestry’s panels will be inspired by the famous peacock dress worn by Lady Curzon at the 1903 Delhi Durbar. This dress will be featured in an upcoming special exhibition at Kedlestone Hall, a heritage site which the Sikh ladies have visited as part of their project.
Here are some images of the tapestry making process in action! We look forward to seeing the completed work in 2017.