Tag Archives: engagement centres

Your Community in the First World War: A Roadshow

The five First World War engagement centres are working together this autumn to run three free and open events featuring speakers, workshops, stalls and networking opportunities.

8th September 2015 at the Imperial War Museum North, Manchester

9th September 2015 at the City Museum, Leeds

10th September 2015 at Newcastle University

How did the First World War affect your community? Do you know where the people named on your war memorial fought and died? What was life like for those who went away to fight? What happened to those who stayed at home? Did the First World War change things for women? Industry? Social welfare? What was its global impact and how did colonial troops experience it?

We invite you to explore your community’s connection with the First World War and meet up with others already doing so. These three events, in Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle, will bring together community groups and other organisations who are working on projects around the heritage of the First World War, or who are interested in developing such a project. There will be an opportunity to share experiences, explore possible sources of funding (especially the Heritage Lottery Fund), exchange ideas, and learn about free support and resources, including how and where you can showcase your findings online.

This roadshow is co-hosted by the five First World War engagement centres funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Each centre represents a network of academic support and has various areas of expertise regarding First World War research. You can access their support when developing you own projects.

At each event we will also be offering an opportunity to learn how to digitise, record and preserve your community’s stories and memorabilia. The availability of this opportunity will be based on demand, so if you are interested in taking part in this digitisation workshop, please register for this when booking the event. You will be asked to submit a short statement of what materials (photographs, letters, diaries etc.) you would like to have digitised and how it would benefit you and/or your community group.

Places at these events are free, but limited, so book early to ensure a place.

Remembering the forgotten heroes of the First World War

Flanders Fields, muddy trenches, the poetry of Wilfred Owen, poppies, the final episode of Blackadder Goes Forth…ask anyone to conjure an image of the First World War and it is likely to feature something along these lines.

Despite their now iconic status, they don’t offer us the complete picture of what became one of the deadliest conflicts in history.

Now, in the year that marks the 100th anniversary of the Great War, a new national research centre has been launched at The University of Nottingham that will help to explore some of the lesser known stories of the years 1914-19.

Century-long legacy
hiddenhistories1The Centre for Hidden Histories is aiming to pair local groups and societies keen to commemorate the role of their communities in the war with University academics who can offer guidance on how to make their vision a reality.

They are particularly keen to offer support to people in the Sikh, Muslim, West Indian and Caribbean, Eastern European and Jewish communities, which have been widely affected by the century-long legacy of the First World War but whose stories are often overlooked in the narrative perpetuated by the media.

Professor John Beckett, in the University’s Department of History, is leading the new centre. He said:

“Our project is particularly interested in the events and participants that fall outside of the traditional image of the Western Front. We intend to explore themes of migration and displacement, the experience of ‘others’ from countries and regions within Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, and the impact and subsequent legacies of the war on diverse communities within Britain, remembrance and commemoration, and identity and faith. We are interested in hearing from community groups who are planning activities to commemorate the years 1914-19, especially those for whom the traditional Armistice Day celebrations may have strikingly different meanings.”

Getting involved
The Centre for Hidden Histories is one of five First World War engagement centres that have been established by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to investigate the war and support community groups in their efforts to research and commemorate the war.

Led by Nottingham, the centre is run by a consortium of universities made up of Derby, Nottingham Trent, Goldsmiths, UCL, Manchester Metropolitan and Oxford Brookes.

As well as academic and research support, the partner universities will also be able to provide some financial grants to the community groups through dedicated Community Challenge and Research Development funds.

Among the projects which the centre is already supporting are:

  • Assistance with arranging and recording anti-war songs in the West Indian tradition to commemorate the contribution made by the West Indies — the Caribbean colonies were represented by more than 18,000 officers and soldiers.
  • The creation of a tapestry that tells the story of the Sikh contribution to the First World War, using traditional Northern Indian craft.
  • The development of an exhibition of the Sikh contribution that could be taken out into the community to other faith groups to develop a deeper understanding of a shared history.

The centre is keen to hear from community groups who have ideas on how to commemorate the First World One and is holding a series of roadshows where people can learn more about the project and how to get involved. These are taking place at:

Wednesday 24th September 6pm-8pm
Lecture Room
Nottingham Mechanics
3 North Sherwood Street, Nottingham NG1 4EZ

Saturday 27th September 10am-12pm
Satta Hasham Room
Leicester Adult Education College 2
Wellington Street
Leicester LE1 6HL

Wednesday 1st October 6pm-8pm
The Green Room
QUAD
Market Place, Cathedral Quarter
Derby DE1 3AS

Anyone interested in finding out more or booking a place can contact Community Liaison Officer Michael Noble on 0115 748 4942 or at by emailing hiddenhistories@nottingham.ac.uk

Connected Communities Festival: Exploring World War One and its Legacy

A number of sessions at the recent Connected Communities Festival in Cardiff reflected on the nature of community at this time of commemoration and during the First World War.

In this short film, Mike Noble from the University of Nottingham’s Centre for Hidden Histories speaks about the work of the AHRC’s five World War One Engagement Centres. He describes how the focus of each centre allows it to better engage with communities.


You can revisit all the sessions which were live streamed in a YouTube playlist.

Everyday Lives in War launches

There was a strong community focus to the launch event of the Everyday Lives in War centre last week at the University of Hertfordshire. The last – but certainly not the least – of the AHRC-funded World War One Engagement Centres to launch, the event attracted a wide range of community groups to talk about their work and their collaborations, and to find out about how they could get involved in the work of the centre.

Three-minute talks from organisations as diverse as the Herts at War project, the Luton Museum and the University of Reading’s Huntley and Palmer Archive began the day. David Souden from the Historic Palaces spoke about a project to lay red ceramic roses, one for each of the 888,000 British and Colonial soldiers killed in the First World War, in the dry moat around the Tower of London. He and Alastair Massie from the National Army Museum reminded us all of the strong national as well as local links being forged by the Engagement Centres.

A panel session followed, which examined objects and artefacts brought in by members of the public. Fascinating insights followed from members of the panel, such as Alan Wakefield from the Imperial War Museum, Dan Hill from the Herts at War project, Gareth Hughes of the Western Front Association, Mike Roper, Jim Hughes and Rachel Duffett of the Everyday Lives centre, and others. Objects discussed included a Princess Mary box – given to every soldier who fought for the British during the War, including, we heard, soldiers from the Empire – photos, medals and even fragments of a shot-down zeppelin.

Dan Hill from the Herts at War project speaking at the panel session
Dan Hill from the Herts at War project speaking at the panel session

The themes covered by the centre will include food and farming, conscientious objection and military tribunals, supernatural beliefs and theatre and entertainment. To emphasise the last of these themes, those attending were treated to a performance of JM Barrie’s A Well Remembered Voice of 1918.

All in all, the launch was a memorable event with a strong focus on community and public interest in the First World War commemoration, which augurs well for the coming months and years. Good luck Everyday Lives in War

For further information, please go to the AHRC website.