Saturday, 24 December 2016

Learning from history

Nigel Farage, John Bull gnome
2016 has certainly felt like an 'eventful' year. How does it compare with the past and what can we look forward to?  The Prince of Wales took the extraordinary step to use Radio 4 'Thought for the day' to raise his concerns over the recent rise in 'Populism', echoing 'the dark days of the 1930s'.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Recovery and recuperation in Bournville

Fircroft College during WW1
Thanks LoB: MS 466/3a/831
With the onset of World War 1 and in particular the Gallipoli campaign in early and mid 1915, the hospitals in Birmingham began to receive casualties, both ill and wounded servicemen. In addition to the acute facilities available at the 1st Southern General Hospital, convalescent homes were required to allow individuals to regain their health and strength. Throughout the city appropriate facilities were sought and requisitioned by the War Office. In Bournville two buildings were identified and made available by Cadburys – Fircroft and The Beeches.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Untold Stories: sharing stories across the generations

As part of The People's Heritage Co-operative's HLF funded project, 'Untold Stories: Birmingham's Wounded Soldiers from WW1', Year 8 pupils at Swanshurst School took part in a series of workshops with Rachel Gillies - Community Film Maker to learn how to conduct filmed oral history interviews.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

In Soldiers Footsteps: Commemorating WW1 and the Somme

Often individual stories, especially in regards to the First World War, are lost when commemorating a big and significant part of history. The workshop I created for the Year 5 children at Paganel school was aimed at highlighting the individuals involved worldwide in the war and extracting their individual stories, not only of their experiences of war but their families, who were left behind.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

The End of Reason 1916, in Schools now

'Lie of the land' - a site specific Big Brum drama
at Highbury Hall earlier this year
Big Brum Theatre in Education Company have started their autumn term tour into schools with their third World War One play, ‘Over The Top’. 

Summer 1916. 141 days of horror begin as the Battle of the Somme becomes one of the bloodiest conflicts in human history.  The play and Theatre in Education programme tells the story of a young Irish soldier joining up against the background of the Easter uprising in Dublin, as his childhood sweetheart is sent to a hospital receiving casualties from the first few days of the Battle of the Somme. 

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Campaigning for our wounded soldiers

Find out more about Untold Stories
'Untold Stories' has unearthed a history which we in Birmingham can be proud of, in terms of medical treatment of  World War one soldiers, but also a history of prejudice and discrimination which is as relevant today as it was 100 years ago.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Re-telling untold stories

Unveiling our resources at Highbury Hall
Untold stories learning resource, about Birmingham's wounded soldiers from World War One, was formally launched on Tuesday 13th sept at Highbury Hall - one of the many military hospitals explored as part of the project.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Learning resource to be launched

Untold stories - Birmingham's wounded soldiers from WW1 learning resource to be launched this Tuesday, 13th September 6:30pm at Highbury Hall, one of more than military hospitals, local schools used as hospitals and auxiliary hospitals used in Birmingham during world war one.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Filming Untold Stories

So here I’m sat at my desk, looking through scores of photos and hours of footage, wondering how I’m going to pull so much fantastic stuff together.  My job, you see, is to turn all of the lectures, interviews, workshops and explorations we have undertaken through our ‘Untold Stories’ project into a finished film for our launch on 13th September.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Untold stories – sites of treatment

Great Hall, University of Birmingham

In late 1914 plans were made to establish auxiliary hospitals in large private houses across Birmingham, predominantly in the south of the city. While we found out a lot about some sites in the city that were used as hospitals during the First World War (i.e. the University of Birmingham, Highbury Hall in Moseley), others were initially more mysterious.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Mapping untold stories of World War 1

Indian Army wounded dressed in 
‘Convalescent Blue’ 
outfit in the Dome, Brighton

When what you're looking at is too huge to understand, you reach for a map.  Body density maps of World War One is one way to attempt to 'picture' where death happened (see over the top).  You might begin to visualise impact of those deaths by mapping the streets they left behind. But what about the casualties from physical wounds, illness, and emotional trauma?

We know there were many more than those who died, but have no fixed number.  Their injuries and return from fighting is well documented, but how can we even begin to understand the immensity of change in the lives of people living in, or patients staying in Birmingham?

Monday, 18 July 2016

Over the top

Touring to schools from October to December 2016

Summer 1916. 141 days of horror begin as the Battle of the Somme becomes one of the bloodiest conflicts in human history. In a crowded hospital near the front line a nurse scrubs the floor in the relentless war against infection and disease, but not all the wounds of war can be treated in this manner.
“It’s not the missing limbs that haunts you.
Its what’s missing behind the eyes, inside.”

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Working hard 100 years on

Graduates leaving the ceremony
Last week I was invited by Baron Bilimoria of Chelsea, in full ceremonial dress as chancellor of the University of Birmingham to sit back in the Great Hall of the University of Birmingham and appreciate the history of just that one room - the events and celebrations that have happened there.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Untold Stories event 14 May

We have now rescheduled Dr Sian Robert's archive workshop, part of the Untold Stories project, for May 14, 2-4pm in the Library of Birmingham, Wolfson Centre (Floor 4).

This event is free and open to the public but numbers are limited so please contact Nicola Gauld at the People’s Heritage Co-operative if you would like to come along:

Monday, 11 April 2016

Birmingham Women: Past & Present Revisited by Women’s History Birmingham

Birmingham munitions workers, WW1
We're excited to announce a project by a new group that involves members of the PHC, ‘Birmingham Women: Past & Present Revisited’ by Women's History Birmingham. The project has been supported by an Our Heritage grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and will focus on a sponsored walk produced by the editors of the Feminist Review journal in the 1980s called Birmingham Women: Past & Present.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Untold Stories events update

Unfortunately we've had to postpone the session with Dr Sian Roberts that was planned for this Saturday, March 19. We'll be rescheduling it for sometime in April so keep an eye out for the new date.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Ties that Bind

Private Jesse Hill [WAVE: DX554]
Over the last few weeks we have been supporting Big Brum Theatre in Education Company with their new WW1 project, Ties that Bind, which is supported by the HLF. We’ve been lucky enough to see previous WW1 productions by Big Brum and have been in awe of their creativity, passion and immense talent for working with young people in order to explore complex and challenging situations. Ties that Bind involves working with young people from schools in Birmingham and Wolverhampton to explore the experience of the young men involved in the First World War and their relationship to each other. This week I went with Matt and Richard from the company to Wolverhampton Archives, where I previously did some work, to explore a particular deposit that I hoped would be inspiring for the project. 

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Birmingham: Leading the Way

Birmingham Archives Kynoch Factory, WW1 images 
In 1914, Birmingham's reputation as a centre of medical specialisms came into it's own. The rapid set up of the First Southern General Hospital at Birmingham University on 15th August, just 11 days after war was declared, following months of preparation, set the template for Military Hospitals across the country serving the wounded in the coming years. A mere cursory look at the Mills' Munitions Factory photos at Birmingham Archives and Heritage gives an indication of the numbers and severity of the injuries to come.

Professor Jonathon Reinarz' talk at Birmingham University on 11th February 2016 to launch People's Heritage Co-operative Untold Stories Project provided a great start to a project which has at it's heart the uncovering of the stories of those wounded soldiers, the medical professionals they came into contact with and the development of medical practice and provision for injured and disabled soldiers.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Untold Stories events

Gym, Highbury Hospital, Reproduced with permission of the Library of Birmingham
A series of talks will be held in February and March 2016, open to members of the public as well as Co-operative members. Do please get in touch if you would be interested in volunteering for this project, or have any family stories that you'd be willing to share.

Friday, 22 January 2016

HLF fund untold stories of Birmingham's injured soldiers

Soldiers at Highbury Hospital in Moseley. 
Reproduced with permission of the Library of Birmingham
We are pleased to announce Untold Stories: Birmingham's Wounded Soldiers from WW1, a new project funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund First World War Then and Now grant. The project will focus on the untold stories of soldiers returning to Birmingham from the Great War with serious physical and psychological injuries. It will map the sites of hospital treatment and convalescence that were set up in the city and will explore what happened to the soldiers after their treatment ended.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Edwardian Baths saved and restored

Byron Jackson opening ceremony!
Stirchley Baths were officially opened on 14th January 2016, or strictly speaking, the re-opening of the Baths after some 105 years!
Richard and I attended this official ceremony as Stirchley Baths reappeared in its new guise as a community centre with halls, meeting rooms, cinema space and café.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Have a go at National Archives webinars

SOLD OUT webinar for 'Using the National Register of 1939'
I recently took part in one of the webinars organised by The National Archives - in this case 'Using the National Register of 1939'.  These 'webinars' are a relatively new service and offer a combination of a live broadcast and an element of interactivity as you can pose questions during and after the broadcast. I have signed up for a couple of these now and they have been a useful introduction to similar topics - I'd recommend having a go!