Football, Plans and Public History: Art of Ayresome and taking the archives to the wider world

By Dr Tosh Warwick, Manchester Metropolitan University. 

 The searchroom of an archive is unlikely to be the first place many associated with the football fan reminiscing about past matches, players and a long-lost stadium. Yet, by drawing upon the rich sporting collections of Teesside Archives spanning club records, oral histories, plans, photographs and programmes, the recently launched Art of Ayresome online exhibition has helped celebrate the heritage of Middlesbrough FC’s former Ayresome Park home by taking this rarely seen material into the homes of Boro fans around the world.

‘Engineering Archie’

Amongst the highlights on the sporting collections are a number of Ayresome Park football stadium plans by world-acclaimed stadium designer Archibald Leitch, recently digitised and currently on show as part of the Art of Ayresome online exhibition. Bringing together work from acclaimed architects, cartoonists, illustrators, painters, photographers and sculptors, Art of Ayresome features numerous historic items and explore the story of Ayresome Park in a creative, engaging and unique way.

6 - Archibald Leitch's Ayresome Park plans from Teesside Archives' collections feature in Art of Ayresome

Archibald’s Leitch’s Ayresome Park plans from Teesside Archives’ collections feature in the Art of Ayresome.

Born in Glasgow in 1865, Leitch has been described as ‘the world’s first ever specialist designer of football grounds’.[1] ‘Engineering Archie’ designed a number of Britain’s iconic football grounds including Arsenal’s former Highbury home, Glasgow Rangers’ Ibrox Stadium and Manchester United’s Old Trafford. In 1903, Leitch’s Glasgow practice was commissioned to design Boro’s new ‘Ayresome Park’ home as the club made plans to leave the Linthorpe Road Ground. Leitch’s designs for Ayresome Park that have survived and can be found in Teesside Archives form part of a wider collection of plans that chronicle the initial construction of the stadium in 1903 and subsequent enhancements and redevelopments over the decades.

Archie’s Ayresome on show

The Art of Ayresome online exhibition, hosted on the Middlesbrough FC website, features Archibald’s Leitch’s original 1903 plans for Ayresome Park and are the oldest works in the exhibition. The plans provide the visitor with an architectural introduction to Ayresome Park and a detailed, unique perspective on Middlesbrough Football Club’s move to their new home at the beginning of the twentieth century. The plans allow the visitor to explore in minute detail – down to the very foundations – the place that became a central part of life for the club, town and hundreds of thousands of Teessiders.

The plan of the new Grand Stand, received by Middlesbrough Corporation’s Borough Engineer on 21st March 1903, details some of the key features of a typical Archibald Leitch Grand Stand that are evident in Ayresome’s standout feature. In his Engineering Archie, author Simon Inglis describes the new main stand as ‘straight from the pattern book of the firm with which Leitch often worked, the Clyde Structural Iron Company of Glasgow.’ Complete with its barrelled roof, arguably the most notable feature of the new stand was the iconic Leitch semi-circular roof gable, which many fans will remember was adorned for many years with an advertisement for McEwan’s 80/-.[2]

A plan of the Ayresome Park grandstand - Archibald Leitch (Teesside Archives)

A Plan of the Ayresome Park Grandstand – Archibald Leitch (Teesside Archives).

In their detail of the new facilities that formed part of the new ground, the Leitch plans give an indication of the investment and ambitions for the club that underpinned the construction of a new stadium. As Shaun Wilson notes in the ‘Ayresome Memories’ project, Leitch provided a ‘new ground in keeping with Boro’s growing stature.’[3] Costing a total of £11,857, the stadium was a vast improvement on the facilities at the club’s former Linthorpe Road home. The Athletic News reporter ‘Vulcan’ described the new, modern facilities in detail ahead of the ground’s inaugural 1903/04 campaign:

The directors, with great faith and equal enterprise have fitted up their new ground at Ayresome Park in accordance with the most modern requirements. Altogether, well over £6,000 has been spent over the equipment of the enclosure, and £3,000 of this has been devoted to the erection of a new grand stand to seat 3,000 persons, from the designs of Mr. Archibald Leitch, of Glasgow. Underneath this there is a well-appointed gymnasium, a billiard room, offices for the secretary (Mr. J. Robson), a boardroom for the directors, baths and retiring rooms for the home and visiting teams, a referee’s room, and other useful accommodation…With the exception of the sixpenny end where it is terraced with earth ashes, there are stands practically all round the field, and the total accommodation provided is for 32,000, so that the North Yorkshiremen are ready for big business.[4]

The Leitch plan of the Grand Stand – initially disapproved by the local authority and subsequently tweaked – detail the features of this ‘big business’ outlook and the state-of-the-art accommodation of the pavilion in miniscule detail, including the specifications of the terraces to the location of urinals in the changing rooms.

The plan of the new Grand Stand at Ayresome Park details facilities including changing rooms plunge baths referees room and visitor facilities

The plan of the new Grand Stand at Ayresome Park details facilities including changing rooms, plunge baths, referees room and visitor facilities (Teesside Archives).

A rare insight into the Linthorpe Road Ground

As well as affording an insight into the design of Boro’s attractive new stand, Leitch’s work in Art of Ayresome also provides a rare insight into the club’s old Linthorpe Road Ground, for which there are no known photos showing the inside of the stadium. The June 1903 plan of the old Linthorpe Road Grand Stand – which would become Ayresome’s early South Stand – provides detail absent from photographs of the stand in situ at Boro’s ‘new’ stadium. When compared with Leitch’s textbook Grand Stand creation, the old Linthorpe Road structure appears primitive and lacks the elegance and grace of the Glaswegian’s creation. Nevertheless, the old stand went on to serve the needs of Boro fans for over three decades until a new Dorman Long constructed stand replaced it in 1937.

The front elevation of the old Linthorpe Road stand shows how the stand lacked the grandeur of Leitch's Grand Stand

The front elevation of the old Linthorpe Road stand shows how the stand lacked the grandeur of Leitch’s Grand Stand (Teesside Archives).

New audiences and visitor responses

By featuring Leitch’s plans in Art of Ayresome thousands of fans have been able to enjoy the designs for the first time and learn more about the architect and Boro’s history.

Entries in the Visitor Book and Feedback Questionnaire responses reflect positively on the exhibition’s historical component. One supporter commented that “some of the earlier stuff (i.e. before my time) was fascinating. Lovely half hour spent viewing these drawings”. Another visitor noted that it was “good to see original plans”. When asked if Art of Ayresome had helped respondents learn something new about the history of Ayresome Park or Middlesbrough FC, one answer pointed to the “original plans”, another revealed they had acquired new knowledge of the “Scottish designer of the stadium”, whilst another supporter described how “the artist sketches for the original ground were interesting.”

As a rare architectural example of Boro’s early history on a public platform (with the club still in the process of making their own archives more accessible), the plans have attracted press coverage and formed part of a BBC Look North feature on Art of Ayresome.

It is evident from the responses to Leitch’s plans and the initial early feedback on the Art of Ayresome that taking the Leitch material beyond the archives has been beneficial for the exhibition and visitors alike. As well as helping develop new knowledge, the exhibition has also evoked positive emotional responses to the Boro’s sporting heritage.

During the challenging times posed by COVID-19, Leitch’s plans have played an important role in an ‘uplifting exhibition at a difficult time for many’ and it is planned will continue to have a positive impact for visitors and engagement with Teesside Archives’ collections and the area’s football heritage.

[1] S. Inglis, ‘Archibald Leitch’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/95008 (accessed 10 June 2020)

[2] S. Inglis (2005), Engineering Archie: Archibald Leitch – Football Ground Designer (Swindon, English Heritage), p.68

[3] S. Wilson,  ‘The Linthorpe Road Ground and Leitch’s Plans’ https://www.mfc.co.uk/the-linthorpe-ground-and-leitchs-plans (accessed 10 June 2020)

[4] Athletic News, 24 August 1903

New Generation Thinkers in conversation

catherine_history_terror

Catherine Fletcher is Professor of History, and an AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinker 2015. Her book The Beauty and the Terror: An Alternative History of the Italian Renaissance was published in March 2020. Catherine is also author of Our Man in Rome: Henry VIII and his Italian Ambassador, Diplomacy in Renaissance Rome, and The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de’ Medici.

Griffiths BBC

Seren Griffiths is Senior Lecturer in Public Heritage and Archaeological Science, and an AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinker 2020. She is an Early Career Researcher, and Principal Investigator on the AHRC-funded ‘Project TIME’. She will be talking about her research on the BBC ‘Free Thinking’ programme on the 23rd June.

Here Seren, at the start of her New Generation Thinkers Scheme, interviews Catherine about why she was interested in taking part, and why working with the media is an important form of public history and heritage work.

 SG: Catherine, what first attracted you to the BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinkers Scheme?

CF: I applied three times, in fact. The first was back in 2010, the year the scheme was launched. I was working on Our Man in Rome, which a book for a general audience based on my PhD research, about the diplomats behind Henry VIII’s first divorce. This was just after the crash of 2008 and the academic job market wasn’t looking great so any opportunity to develop the Plan B career seemed attractive! I didn’t get selected that time, but I did manage to stick around in fixed-term contract jobs. I gave NGT another shot in my final year of eligibility, with a project related to The Black Prince of Florence, and got selected.

SG: What for you is the importance of public history and heritage?

CF: The idea that scholars wouldn’t want to talk to–and hear from–a broad range of people about our research always seems slightly odd to me. Obviously there are some elements of research that aren’t easy to communicate to non-experts, but whenever I do public talks and events I get questions that make me think in different ways about my work, and that’s hugely valuable. On a larger scale, I think it makes a difference to political life if voters come to their decisions informed about the past. All the big current questions–the pandemic, Black Lives Matter, Brexit–have historical contexts. History and heritage matter to citizenship.

SG: Has being involved with the BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinkers Scheme changed or developed your practice as a public historian?

CF: Yes, definitely. Some of the programmes I’ve done have involved me reading and visiting exhibitions on topics that are well outside my usual expertise and giving my perspective on them–everything from seventeenth-century court music to contemporary art to ancient literature. It’s often quite easy in academia to end up siloed in your own discipline and not engage with other ideas out there. It’s also encouraged me to explore writing and performing in different genres – I’ve been experimenting more with fiction and I’ve done a few stand-up comedy/history gigs.

SG: What was the most surprising element of the BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinkers Scheme?

CF: I think probably the range of research that’s out there and can work for a wide audience. In the broadcasts and events that I’ve been involved in I’ve heard contributors talk about topics from queer digital lives in South Asia to seventeenth-century cookery to the history of menstruation. You can always count on running into something unexpected.

SG: Obviously my experience of the scheme in a Corona virus 19 context, will be very different from your experience of the scheme. What do you see as the biggest challenges of doing public history or heritage in lockdown?

CF: Personally I’m really missing the audience. I’ve done one live comedy show online, which was fun, but it’s not the same as speaking face-to-face to a crowd of people and getting that immediate response and energy. I’m spending a lot of time in lockdown trying to sketch out material for the future, but I’m very conscious that live cultural events won’t be the same for quite some time and there’s a real risk of some arts and heritage organisations closing entirely if support isn’t forthcoming from government.

Luck in the Lockdown! Researching early women doctors in Manchester: Blog 2: Searching for Dr. Ross (c. 1874 to 1961)

By Ali Ronan

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The Duchess of York Hospital for Babies, Burnage (By Peter Ward, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9186534

This has been an exciting search! A group of volunteers have been researching pioneering women doctors in Manchester and I have been looking at three forgotten women who all were involved in the Manchester Babies’ Hospital after 1914:  Dr. Elsie Brown Hey, Dr Sheila Ross and Dr Dora Bunting. I choose them, at random, from a list sent to the volunteers by Dr. Peter Mohr.

Today I am looking at what I have discovered about Sheila Ross and how I used the archives during the lockdown. When I first looked at the Annual Reports of the Manchester Babies’ Hospital in the Manchester University Archives, I had noted a Dr. Ross as one of the initial committee members: but just a surname was frustrating as I couldn’t find out who she was. But I was undeterred!

Peter Mohr had signposted us to the Medical Biographical Collection, so I looked up Ross and found that Dr. Sheila Margaret Ross (GB 133 MMC/2/Ross) had graduated from Edinburgh in 1904 and taken the Diploma in Public Health in Manchester in 1909.  So, I was already thinking about her age and how I might find her on the census. I looked up Sheila Margaret Ross on the FindmyPast census and saw that there was an entry for the 1939 register. There was Sheila, describing herself as a retired Doctor of Medicine, living with a housekeeper in Kent and her birth date of 1873.

From there I could narrow down the census requirements. As she took her medical degree in Edinburgh, I looked for census returns in Scotland. In 1881, I found Sheila aged seven, a scholar, living with her mother and three siblings, all scholars and two servants. Screenshot 2020-06-18 at 11.03.00They were living in the Manse at Appin in Argyllshire where her father Duncan was the Free Church minister, although he was not home on census night in 1881. I could not find him anywhere on the 1881 census, but he was at home 10 years later – I hope he had not been away for ten years! Clearly not, as in the 1891 Census there were three more children at the Manse, Campbell born in 1882, Jeannie born in 1885 and Mary born in 1890. There was also a boarder Mary McLead and her brother Donald, an unemployed tea planter, both from North Uist in the Western Isles. Another intriguing story?

By 1891, Sheila, aged only 17, was also living as a boarder in Smith Street in Govan, Glasgow in a boarding house run by a Mary Edgar who was the secretary to a Church Mission and perhaps known to Sheila’s father. In 1891 Sheila declared on the Census form that she was attending classes at college or school called St George’s although the content of the classes is unknown. Interestingly, in the 1901 Census Sheila’s brother Campbell aged 19 was recorded as also staying in the boarding house, as another medical student.

However, it made me think Sheila was quite a bold and adventurous young woman, leaving home in the West of Scotland and moving to the city to study and indeed, some of the information I later discovered, confirmed this idea.  I could not find her at all in the 1901 census. I looked at the England and Scottish 1901 census but no luck at all. I wondered if she had travelled abroad but there was no trace of that either.

However, searching the 1913 Medical Register, which is also on FindmyPast, confirmed what the Biographical Collection had already told me: that by 1904 Sheila Ross had Screenshot 2020-06-18 at 11.03.15graduated from Edinburgh University with a Bachelor of Medicine Degree and then in 1906 gained her MD – as a Doctor of Medicine. So, I imagine that in 1901 she was in Edinburgh but somehow not recorded on the Census. I had googled her to see if anything came up and discovered that a digitisation project at Edinburgh University (http://libraryblogs.is.ed.ac.uk/phddigitisation/author/aomcneice/) had found a medical thesis from 1906 written by Sheila M. Ross. It is entitled Acute hallucinatory insanity – a type of the confusional insanities, with clinical notes.  Sheila was awarded a medal from the School of Medicine in 1899 for Systemic Anatomy and the July 1904 edition of the British Medical Journal notes the graduation in 1904 where out of a class of 130, only seven were women including Sheila M. Ross.

An interest in Public Health meant that Sheila moved to Manchester to complete a Diploma in Public Health and in 1909 she graduated from the Victoria University in Manchester. Although at that time, she clearly maintained an interest in insanity, as she was recorded in the 1911 census as visiting the Holloway Sanatorium for the Insane (sic) in Surrey and staying with the superintendent W.D Moore, (1859-1926) and his family. They were a middle-class family with four servants and from the census return it seems likely that the Moores lived on the site.

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Holloway Sanatorium for the Insane in 1885 (Creative Commons, from Wellcome Collection)

Searching the 1911 Census for Sheila Ross taught me an important lesson: usually I look at the transcription of the census, in this case the transcription told me that Sheila Ross stayed with a W.D. Woore. I looked up this name to no avail and as it seemed such a strange name, I decided to look at the original image where it became clear that the enumerator had written the name Moore with a flourish, meaning that the transcription re-transcribed it as Woore. Once I realised that the name was Moore, many parts of this jigsaw felt into place. Sheila was at the Holloway Sanatorium as a visitor, citing her occupation as a Doctor of Medicine.A remarkable view into the lives of psychiatric patients at Holloway Sanatorium can be found in the recently digitised patient case books. Many of these case notes are recorded by W.D. Moore. Holloway Sanatorium was opened in 1885 as a hospital for the paying middle classes and W.D. Moore started work there in 1901. Set in 22 acres of lush parkland, the asylum was located to be visible from the nearby train station. The design of the sanatorium was based on the French idea that plain walls were obnoxious to the mad. Every inch of wall was “richly decorated including portrayals of small devils amidst the florid design”. (Wellcome Library Blog). I think Sheila must have still been interested in ‘lunacy’ at this stage and was perhaps building on ideas from her thesis written a few years before. The sanatorium was relatively new in 1911 and the place was one of the most extraordinary communities in England. The patients could wander freely down to the shops and back, mingling on equal terms with the locals.

By 1913 Sheila was working in the Public Health Laboratory in Manchester. Presumably, she needed a job. At that time the Public Health laboratory was under the auspices of a Swiss Doctor, Aguste Delefine (1855-1921), who was Professor of Bacteriology at the University and who developed a course for undergraduates in bacteriology and set up the bacteriological laboratories in the Medical school. This is interesting on several levels, firstly that Delefine was exploring ideas about public health and young children, particularly in relation to a diet of cow’s milk. Sheila Ross will have been aware of these findings, as the summer outbreak of infant gastro-enteritis had been one of the catalysts for the establishment of the Babies Hospital in 1914.  Secondly, Sheila Ross subsequently became a bacteriologist for the Public Health Department in Derbyshire in the 1930s, demonstrating the influence that working with Professor Delepine in the Public Health Laboratory had had on her.

By the early 1950s, Sheila Ross was working in some capacity, (possibly as a consultant as by the early 1950s she was in her late 70s) at the children’s hospital in Booth Hall, Manchester which had amalgamated with the Babies’ Hospital (now renamed the Duchess of York Hospital) when the NHS was established in 1948. Sheila Ross co-authored with paediatrician W.H. Patterson, an article in the British Medical Journal in February 1952, entitled: ‘GASTRO-ENTERITIS IN INFANCY’ AN ACCOUNT OF 286 CASES TREATED IN A GENERAL PAEDIATRIC HOSPITAL by N. M. MANN, SHEILA ROSS and W. H. PATTERSON. From Booth Hall Hospital, Manchester. Clearly the issue of childhood disease, in particular, sickness and gastro-enteritis, was a recurring preoccupation for Sheila.

I had suspected that Sheila Ross was adventurous, I discovered that during the 1920s, she travelled to Madeira at least twice and to Cape Town in 1923. In 1952 she travelled once again to Cape Town. I wondered if she visited the Manchester doctors Marguerite and William Douglas Drummond who had emigrated to Cape Town in 1926. Marguerite Douglas, born in Cape Town in 1881, was one of the doctors on the first committee at the Manchester Babies’ Hospital in 1914, she married Dr. Bill Drummond in 1915, and since 1912 she had been in charge of Maternity and Child Welfare as part of the Manchester Public Health department. Marguerite Douglas was also a signatory to the  Open Christmas Letter which was a public message for peace addressed “To the Women of Germany and Austria” signed by a group of 101 British suffragists at the end of 1914. This letter was also signed by Margaret Ashton who was the main benefactor and supporter of the Babies’ Hospital. Although Sheila Ross did not sign the letter, I am sure that these women will have been spoken of current events, and all will have been suffrage sympathisers and possibly critical of the war as well.

Sheila Ross died in 1961, she was 88 years old and died in Bromley, Kent, near where she had lived in 1939.

 

 

The Stone Age for School Kids: The Bryn Celli Ddu Minecraft Experience

By Dr. Ben Edwards, Senior Lecturer, History, Politics and Philosophy, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Since 2015, alongside Dr Seren Griffiths, also of MMU, Dr Ffion Reynolds of Cadw, and Adam Stanford of Aerial Cam, I have been involved with the Bryn Celli Ddu Landscape Project. Bryn Celli Ddu is one of the most impressive Neolithic burial monuments in the British Isles: a passage tomb, consisting of a stone-built passage into an artificial earth mound, which terminates in a burial chamber. The passage tomb was used as a location for burial around 3000BC, but the site had a much longer history, and exists in a landscape replete with evidence for prehistoric ritual activity. Prior to the site’s use for burial, a henge monument with an internal stone circle occupied the site and given the 3000BC data associated with the later passage tomb, this would seem to be one of the earliest henge monuments in Wales. Our excavations during the project did not focus on the tomb itself, as this was excavated in the 1930s prior to its reconstruction and restoration. Instead, we set out to investigate the landscape around the monument, which had seen surprisingly little sustained investigation, despite the importance of the site. We have located new panels of Neolithic cup-marked rock art, demonstrated the existence of a later Early Bronze Age burial cairn cemetery to the south of the tomb, and located a cluster of later Neolithic Grooved Ware pits. The burial monument clearly led to the location being significant in prehistory after the use of the tomb itself had finished. Bryn Celli Ddu is one of only three passage tombs in Wales, all of which are on Anglesey, but it is the only such monument with an association with midsummer solstice sunrise. The passage into the mound was deliberately aligned so that on the longest day of the year, as soon as the sun rose, it would shine down the passage and illuminate the burial chamber within.

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The rising sun illuminates the passage on the summer solstice (Photo: Adam Stanford)

Of absolutely central importance to our project over the course of the last five years has been the involvement of the local community in all our research work. Every year, volunteer excavators have been part of the excavations; in partnership with Cadw we have run public open days; we have hosted school visits; designed a local prehistoric treasure hunt; developed a smartphone app for public use; and hosted temporary exhibitions with Oriel Ynys Môn. However, with the introduction of the Coronavirus lockdown, we were forced to cancel all our excavation, survey and outreach work for the 2020 season. Whilst this was a great shame, it did provide the opportunity for more imaginative ways of connecting people with the prehistoric past. This is the context for the Bryn Celli Ddu Minecraft Experience.

The Welsh government, through its Hwb Cymru school’s portal, provides free access for school children to the Education Edition of Minecraft, as does Manchester Metropolitan University for the development of learning resources. Usually, the value of Minecraft as an education tool focuses on its use to introduce children to basic coding skills and its use for artistic expression, though there an almost infinite number of uses to which it has been put. It seemed to me that a recreation of the Bryn Celli Ddu landscape would be the perfect way to get school children virtually to the site, even though the excavation and open days had been cancelled: the technology was familiar, and access to the programme was provided freely. Thus, by roping-in my now home-schooled daughter, we were able to embark upon a recreation of Bryn Celli Ddu and all the prehistoric features we had discovered or investigated over the five years of the project.

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The entrance to the reconstructed Bryn Celli Ddu

Minecraft has its limitations as a tool for reconstruction, primarily the 1 cubic metre basic size of the majority of the ‘solid’ components of the world, known as ‘blocks’, for the uninitiated. The construction of a Neolithic passage tomb, various Grooved Ware pits, the Bronze Age cairn cemetery and standing stones was all possible despite this constraint. Enough types of block are available to provide the range of textures needed to represent the different types of stone that are used in the construction of the passage and burial chamber, for example. Simple pits are represented by a 1 x 1m hole in the ground, and ‘flower pot’ objects can be placed in them that bear a passing resemblance to the Grooved Ware; similarly a flower pot represents the cremation urn we discovered during the excavation of the Early Bronze Age burial cairn of Bryn Celli Bach. Blocks representing the stone-built burial cist in the centre of the same cairn, in contrasting stone, were buried beneath the mound as an easter-egg for any that chose to dig into it. Other elements were more problematic. Neolithic carved rock art panels are an important feature of the landscape – our project had made eight new discoveries of art panels, in addition to one large panel that was already known near to the passage tomb – but creating Neolithic ‘art’ was difficult within the constraints of the Minecraft world. The compromise solution was to create large rock outcrops using bedrock blocks and inset into these decorated stones, which could represent the location of the carved cupmarks from the Neolithic.

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Neolithic rock art panels set into the rock outcrop near Bryn Celli Ddu

We did take a degree of artistic license in order to enhance the educational experience. There is no evidence for settlement activity near Bryn Celli Ddu during any of the time periods that our project has studied, but there have been discoveries of impressively large Neolithic buildings elsewhere on Anglesey. CR Archaeology discovered three such structures near Llanfaethlu in the north of Anglesey, and their excellent reports allowed an attempt at the Minecraft reconstruction of one of the buildings within the experience. Similarly, due to a lack of pollen survival for detailed palynological analysis, little is known about the specific vegetation history at Bryn Celli Ddu during the Neolithic or Early Bronze Age, but clearly tree cover would have been more extensive than it is today. Therefore, we used trees in Minecraft to structure the user experience: oak and birch trees obscure lines of sight and, when used in conjunction with the waymarked paths we created, shape the way people move around the landscape and create sudden vistas to engage the visitor. Using trees in this manner also allowed us to separate the reconstruction of the Llanfaethlu house from the rest of the landscape, into which we had artistically imposed it.

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The reconstruction of the Llanfaethlu Neolithic house

The most fundamental element of any landscape is the topography itself: the shape of the valley of the Afon Braint in which Bryn Celli Ddu is located. The monument was deliberately sited on a low sand and gravel knoll in the middle of the valley, presumably to provide local prominence and to avoid the boggier ground that surrounded the river and its tributary streams. These are now canalised, but aerial photography shows their previous courses in the form of palaeochannels. Fortunately, using World Painter, a third-party Minecraft world creator, we were able to import an actual digital terrain model of the valley into Minecraft, to use as the base on which to build the world. This terrain model was accurate to 1m, having been derived from satellite lidar data, and the contours clearly showed the course of the river and tributary streams. ‘Painting’ the world as a first step also allowed the rapid creation of the rivers themselves, and the boggy areas that would have surrounded them in prehistory.

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Aerial view showing the real-world contours and river channel, Grooved Ware pits bottom left

Finally, thanks to Dr Ffion Reynolds of Cadw, we have been able to meet another fundamental objective of all of our public engagement work in the project: bilingual accessibility. By translating all of the Minecraft Experience into Welsh, Dr Reynolds has enabled both a Welsh and an English version to be uploaded onto the Hwb Cymru education resources portal. Schools across Wales, and indeed the UK, can now download the world onto their Education Editions of Minecraft and allow pupils to access the Experience.

For links to the Bryn Celli Ddu Minecraft Experience see https://mcphh.org/bryn-celli-ddu-minecraft-experience/

 

Public Archaeology in Lockdown

By Dr. Seren Griffiths, Senior Lecturer, History, Politics and Philosophy, Manchester Metropolitan University.

As an archaeologist the prospect of being ‘locked down’ poses challenges for lots of research – traditional fieldwork like the type that Dr Ben Edwards and I do most summers is not possible.

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Figure 1. The 2019 season, excavating an important bronze age burial monument to the south of Bryn Celli Ddu.

Instead, I’ve been concentrating on the public archaeology aspect of my research. I have just published a paper on public archaeology in Wales, based on consultation with archaeologists working across Wales. The link to the paper is here https://intarch.ac.uk/journal/issue55/1/index.html. I also took part in the fifth Public Archaeology Twitter Conference on Friday 29 May 2020 to talk about these issues; you can see my twitter paper by following #PATC

This research examined what constitutes best practice in public engagement in heritage. Working with colleagues, and reflecting on my own research, I identified a series of common values that professionals engaged with public archaeology and public heritage felt were central to best practice.

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Figure 2. In consultation with public heritage and public archaeology professionals we identified common values that are central to best practice. Image copyright Adam Sanford.

In our research, we defined public archaeology and heritage as occurring in the world: negotiated, contested, ethical, and diverse, but work that makes explicit reference to the context of practice.

Importantly, although often people think that public archaeology or heritage practices emphasise the social value attached to specific places in the historic environment, members of the public often value a ‘multi-sited’ approach especially in a digital age. In a digitally distributed, international world, geographical proximity to a particular place may not be the most essential criteria in assessing why people determine places to have social value.

Indeed, the processes and media through which public archaeology is undertaken can be as important to the people doing it as the places at which it takes place. In this sense, we can think of public archaeology as a form of ‘intangible heritage practice’, that creates cultural heritage value because of the relationships between a community – whether focused on a locality or forming around a site or network of sites.

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Figure 3. Mechanisms through which best practice in public archaeology could be achieve. Image copyright Adam Sanford.

We argue that best practice is created through networks of relationships and intangible practices, and especially those that are allowed to develop over time, that emphasise benefits to participants, and that work with a network of partners and organisations. Critical to best practice is the ethical treatment of people, and the safety of people involved, but after this the most important aspect was the creativity and enjoyment that projects offered. Public heritage and archaeology needs to be fun!

Places where public archaeology is undertaken clearly have value as the nexus of activities, but a recognition of the value of the responsive, creative, relationships that facilitate public archaeology are as important as discourses on the conservation and curation of places in the historic environment.

Because the best public archaeology practices creates social value in the historic environment through networks of individuals, communities, and professional and volunteer practitioners, the effective curation of the historic environment requires funding, time and resources to support the inclusive relationships that make public archaeology. Even further, there is the wider political context of the production of other forms of social value in Wales, beyond archaeology. For example, the Wales Government’s national strategy of Prosperity for All, which emphasises the social value attached to healthy and active lifestyles. Public archaeology has significant potential to support these themes, both in terms of physical fitness and the effective pathways to good mental health that have been explored in other public archaeology projects. Integrating national policy themes of healthy and active lifestyles would provide another means for public archaeology to generate social value beyond an appreciation of the historic environment, and could be productively explored in the future if such projects could be effectively resourced.

The research that this was based on was undertaken before lock down, and the current, terrible Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. In the context of the horrible aftermath of this virus, the future of public engagement with the historic environment may seem trite but, its importance is actually very significant. The value of public archaeology, as a form of heritage discourse, is as ‘archaeology in the world: negotiated, contested, ethical, and diverse, but work that makes explicit reference to the context of practice‘. It is as much about the kinds of societies that we wish to create in the present as it is about seeking to better understand the past.

Public engagement with the historic environment reminds us of the enduring qualities of creativity and ingenuity that represent some of the best aspects of humanity from time immemorial. Of course, aspects of the historic environment can also demonstrate some of the worst human traits, including subjugation and violence. But, in times like these, when we face crises and unprecedented uncertainty, the historic environment also matters because it provides us with a connection to human societies across time.

The historic environment represents all of our common human inheritance, and provides us with a connections to human societies that have gone before. It reminds us of the enduring, essential qualities of being human. In this sense, heritage is transcendental.

Public heritage, and the relationships that people make doing it, matter, now as much as ever.

 

 

 

 

Virtual Heritage and Wellbeing

Investigators: Amy Luck and Dr Faye Sayer

Project Brief: This research project investigates if engagement with virtual heritage impacts individual’s wellbeing and mental health.

A survey of 650 museums in 41 countries conducted in April 2020 by the Network of European Museum Organisations shows that more than 60% of museums have increased their online presence since closing due to social distancing and 40% have experienced a large upsurge in online visits.

This research will seek to:

  1. Evaluate how engagement with virtual heritage sites can impact visitor wellbeing
  2. Understand how different types of virtual heritage sites and diverse demographics of visitors positively and/or negatively impact on subjective wellbeing
  3. Identify what elements of virtual heritage provide the greatest positive change to wellbeing
  4. Compare the impact of virtual heritage to that of in-person heritage experiences on wellbeing

Project Method: This mixed-method research methodology has developed from an accurate and critical data capture strategy already piloted on several heritage projects in the UK, USA, India and Nigeria (Sayer 2015; Sayer 2018). This research methodology employs quantitative wellbeing measures such as the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) and Modified Visual Analogue Scale (MVAS) alongside quantitative measures such as free comment space on surveys to identify impacts on individual wellbeing.

Participation: We are actively seeking participants from all demographics to take part in this research.

If you would like to take part, simply follow the steps below:

  1. Read the participant information sheet to find out more: http://tiny.cc/lmd9nz
  2. If you’d like to take part, click this link and fill in the survey: https://bit.ly/2AbuDOE
  3. Once you finished the survey, visit one (or more) of the below museums or explore their collections – virtually!

(Recommended minimum time 20 minutes, maximum 2 hours)

(Just click on the yellow man to access virtual tours or scroll down to see collections on Google Arts & Culture)

  1. Once you’ve finished your visit, click this link and fill in the survey: http://tiny.cc/53mdoz1

Contact: If you would like to know more about this project, please contact amy.luck@stu.mmu.ac.uk.

Life Goes On – the North West Film Archive’s Response to the COVID19 Lockdown – collection development, and access.

nwfa-appeal

https://www.nwfa.mmu.ac.uk/lockdown.htm

Contemporary Collecting

The North West Film Archive has launched a #Lockdownlife Appeal and is asking for the public’s help to create as wide-ranging a picture as possible of what life was really like in the North West of England during the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic.  We are looking for personal experiences and perspectives on these unprecedented times – social distancing, staying at home, home schooling, friends and loved ones far from reach, key workers at the sharp end of risk.

Contemporary collecting is an ongoing strand of the work of developing the Archive’s holdings, to ensure future researchers and users have access to material which represents lives lived now, and in the most recent decades.  We are most certainly not only about the ‘old black and white’ material from the Edwardian era, though that is also well represented!  Rapid changes in technology have changed the way we collect, and will continue to do so, and rising to the challenge of keeping up has kept everyone on their toes.  Screenshot 2020-05-26 at 11.58.19Anticipating that most footage recorded in these lockdown days will be born-digital, my colleagues have made it as easy as possible for people to offer their films to us, through uploading platforms.  We then can see what is on offer, make selections, and secure deposit.  The process of archival preservation of master files will follow, with current practice of making copies to LTO (a magnetic tape system) as well as viewing copies.  With born-digital taking over from videotape and cine film, there is a high risk that this footage will be seen as ephemeral, and it will not survive the changeover when people upgrade their devices, lose access to their storage systems, or run out of space and choose to delete old files. It is important that we act now to appeal for the material before it ‘evaporates’.  The appeal may also serve to encourage people to plan to record activities which may not have been considered before.  This will provide a wide range of material for future research, providing the public will step up and donate!

In very practical terms, we explored different avenues to find how best to collect any footage that was offered – we wanted to make it simple to contact us and share footage, but also ensure we had the capacity to receive it and download it safely.  In the end we recommended file transfer services like Dropbox and WeTransfer rather than directing users to a specific ‘bucket’ to fill with content. 

Acquisition & Documentation Officer Nick Gladden recorded a subtitled video appeal to be shared around social media and on a dedicated page on NWFA website, created by Digital Access Officer Jonathan Howell.

 More info on this appeal here including Nick Gladden’s video:

https://www.nwfa.mmu.ac.uk/lockdown.htm

Since the appeal launched, we have already received for consideration one Wigan man’s #SundayFunday videos – he and his friends dressing up and lip-synching to pop songs in their bedrooms; a 70th birthday celebration in Cumbria; and a Chorley Church’s online VE 75 service.

Screenshot 2020-05-26 at 11.57.53

Nick has also been working with colleagues in the Archives+ partnership and record offices around the wider region to co-ordinate the appeal and combine efforts to promote the scheme and collect relevant material.

Several of the other moving image archives in the UK’s network of national and regional collections are doing similar things, as is the British Film Institute National Archive.  Many of the traditional record offices and local history libraries are also seeking to preserve material from the period, perhaps taking a different approach when they can ‘afford’ to bide their time a little in seeking to collect physical artefacts, which are more likely to survive.  Though photographs will have similar issues to moving image of course.

Accessing the Collections in lockdown:

Thanks to some fancy footwork and quick thinking, the NWFA team just beat the lockdown in time to transfer equipment and materials to their homes and establish remote access routes to most other things.  Although the crucial hands-on film inspection and digitisation work is impossible remotely, access has proved to be possible and we are pleased to be able to keep the doors open to researchers and other users.  Not absolutely everything can be reached, but there is plenty to be going on with!  Another silver lining has been the opportunity to spend time on cataloguing – the Cinderella of the service – resulting in hundreds of new entries becoming ready for upload to the web catalogue when we return.

 A Film A Day

During the lockdown, the NWFA’s Will McTaggart and Geoff Senior have been showcasing ‘A Film A Day’ on our Facebook page and using the hashtag #NWFAdailyreel to do the same on Twitter.  This was introduced as a means to showcase material from our collection on a regular basis and gently introduce people to films they may not have come across before by providing short introductions on social media.  This is not to say that there was nothing online before – there is a body of material available already.  It has been an opportunity to promote this availability, add to it, and to reflect the historical depth and geographical breadth of the collection, as a reassurance, and a shop window, to remind folk that the Archive is ‘open for business’ and still able to provide a service. 

 As part of the selection criteria, we have tried to showcase films where there is a link to the current situation.  For example we highlight essential workers like postal delivery workers, nurses and refuse collectors. There have also been nods to crisis planning, domestic routines, Monday Motivation, and what would have been the start to the County Championship cricket season.  Many of the showcased films are available to view online via the BFI Player but we’ve also added further content to our Vimeo channel too.

The BBC picked up on our initiative and broadcast a short TV item on North West Today on 19th April (featuring footage and a recorded FaceTime interview with Marion Hewitt) plus Geoff Senior was invited to talk about it on Radio Lancashire on 30th April. Manchester Metropolitan University also published an article on their website.  The regularity of the postings has generated positive interest, followers and interactions on social media.

VE Day

Screenshot 2020-05-26 at 11.58.34

NWFA have been helped various local groups and authorities to reach out to their communities as part of the revised VE Day celebrations.  A short edit of some of their footage taken on the day and also showing Home Front scenes was prepared and shared with groups and media teams in Manchester, Salford, Rochdale, St Helens and Liverpool.  It has also had take-up from members of the Scout Association in the UK, who are now running online meetings for their members through Zoom and are organising activities on the VE Day theme in the run up to the day.  It was also possible, thanks to the team’s forethought, to supply footage to numerous TV documentaries which were broadcast on the day.

By Marion Hewitt and Nick Gladden

North West Film Archive  n.w.filmarchive@mmu.ac.uk

www.nwfa.mmu.ac.uk

@nwfilmarchive

 

 

The Earliest History of the World

By Dr. Ros Oates, Reader in History, Manchester Metropolitan University

In 1493, an enterprising publisher in Nuremberg (Germany) commissioned a history of the world.  Recognising the power of the new technology of print,  Hans Schedel, approached local artists and writers to produce a richly illustrated – and very expensive – history of the world, which started with the story Adam and Eve and ended in a keenly anticipated imminent apocalypse.   The Liber Chronicarum (Book of Chronicles) was widely known as the Nuremberg Chronicle, and became an instant best seller.  The first coffee table book, the Chronicle included detailed pictures of Europe’s main cities (with a particular interest in German towns) and images of some of the most infamous popes and monarchs in European history.   Copies of the Nuremberg Chronicle sold rapidly.  Hans Schedel published an edition in German (the original was in Latin), and a knock-off was produced by an enterprising publisher who used inferior images to cut the cost of his Chronicle.

Screenshot 2020-05-19 at 09.16.55

Schedel, Hartmann. Liber Chronicarum (Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, VII 1493).Chetham’s Library: Mun.I.8.2, f. 84r.

Because the Chronicle was so expensive, it has survived remarkably well, with copies preserved as a treasured relic of the first years of printing.    Dr Rosamund Oates (Manchester Met Uni) and Dr Nina Adamova (St Petersburg Uni) have been working on surviving copies of the Chronicle from around the world.   We have uncovered some fascinating examples of reading and censorship, for example a German Protestant who added a devil to the shoulder of a Catholic Pope.  Lots of readers were drawn to the story of Pope Joan. Joan was reported to be a female Pope in the medieval Church who was discovered after giving birth in a procession, one devoted Catholic reading her story in the Nurember Chronicle added a beard on her picture to turn her into a ‘male’ Pope.    With funding from the British Academy, Dr Adamova and Dr Oates set up an online exhibition showcasing some of the most fascinating examples of censorship and annotations.  The exhibition includes examples of annotations made by an Elizabethan gentleman, a Tudor historian, and even those of Henry VIII  (whose copy includes a note on bigamy.

Screenshot 2020-05-19 at 09.17.20

Schedel, Hartmann. Liber Chronicarum (Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, XII 1493).Rare Books Collection, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand: f. 181v.

The fascinating afterlives of the Nuremberg Chronicle continued into the modern period.  As rare and precious books, copies of the Chronicle, have travelled around the world.  Our research uncovered Chronicles which had travelled from England to New Zealand, and identified a number of copies owned by families in Lithuania and Poland later taken to Russia after wars in the 19th and 20th centuries.  Many of these are exhibited for the first time in our exhibition, ‘Reading the Nuremberg Chronicle’ at https://nurembergchronicle.co.uk.

Screenshot 2020-05-19 at 09.26.22

The project was sparked by a copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle which is now in Chetham’s Library, Manchester and which used to be owned by two Lancashire gentleman (and one gentlewoman).  This copy of the Chronicle  provides an example of how a late 16th-century English reader supplemented the text of the Chronicle with extensive ‘coutacions and addicions’ borrowed from several printed Protestant histories.

Screenshot 2020-05-19 at 09.18.16

Schedel, Hartmann. Liber Chronicarum (Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, VII 1493).Chetham’s Library, Mun.I.8.2, f. 239r.

As the page on display demonstrates, this book may be the most heavily annotated copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle we looked at.  One of the early modern owners, Thomas Gudlawe (d. 1606), covered the margins of this copy  with copious notes. Almost all of them are quotations or synopses of various history books, written or revised by English Protestant authors.

For example, Gudlawe used two books to annotate this page about the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Sigismund.   In the upper margin he inserted a paragraph on Sigismund from Cooper’s Chronicle (1560) by Thomas Lanquet and Thomas Cooper,  a world history with a strong Protestant bias. In the right and the bottom margins, under the title ‘Residium historiae marterum etc. (‘the rest of the history of martyrs’), Gudlawe recounted the history of “that notable prophet & servaunt of god, Doctor Martin Luther”. For that he again used Cooper’s Chronicle as well as an even more famous Protestant ‘historia sacra’ – John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments (1st edition of 1563).

Thomas Gudlawe transformed his copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle into a large commonplace book, a good part of which dealt with a Protestant vision of sacred history. Gudlawe’s reading may seem even more meaningful if viewed in the context of the religious controversies of his neighbourhood.    Although Elizabethan England was officially a Protestant country, many of Gudlawe’s kinsmen and neighbours in Lancashire were Catholics and accused of recusancy.  In contrast,  Gudlawe’s choice of books was staunchly Protestant.  Gudlawe’s marginalia provide us with a glimpse into the reading practices and the private library of a country gentleman, showing how he used a variety of English books on sacred history.

 

On the trail of the Nuremberg Chronicle …. National Library of New Zealand

Screenshot 2020-05-19 at 09.18.30

And the National Library of Russia

Screenshot 2020-05-19 at 09.18.40

The exhibition can be seen at https://nurembergchronicle.co.uk

Research by Dr Rosamund Oates (twitter:  drrosamundoates) and Dr Nina Adamova (tw: @_NinaAdamova)

This work was part of a larger project:  Communities of Print https://communitiesofprint.wordpress.com  (edited volume forthcoming with Brill)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manchester shops: reflecting on the present and the past

 

By Jon Stobart, Professor of History, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Shopping in a time of coronavirus

As we enter the eighth week of lockdown, our ability to visit shops and engage in the cultural, social and economic transactions that this involve is perhaps beginning to ease. In recent weeks, going to the shops has become a functional and often frustrating experience at best – involving queues to get in, gaps on shelves, and a close orchestration of movement through the shop to ensure social distancing. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of non-food purchases are being made online. All this is very different from how we shopped 3 months ago, let alone 3 years or 30 years.

Screenshot 2020-05-12 at 09.54.00

In some ways, the social and geographical restrictions imposed on us all as a result of coronavirus have heightened and accelerated trends that were already apparent, with footfall declining on many high streets and a series of famous retailers going into administration – or being rescued at the last minute – as consumers switch to online retailers. In this, department stores – once the flagship of retailing and the anchor to most shopping malls – have fared particularly badly: House of Fraser and Debenhams, for example, have both closed numerous stores as their place as the “universal providers” being taken by Amazon.

The future of shopping

We might speculate about the future of retailing and shopping, and about the fate of iconic brands and the vitality of high streets. Not so long ago, it seems, a blend of online and bricks & mortar seemed the best route for many retailers, whilst town-centre managers were keen to emphasise the unique experience of visiting their location. Now things seem less clear: has our recent experience engrained a growing preference for online shopping or will we see a revived desire for real experiences and relationships with people and places, and a return to shopping on the high street and the mall?

And in the past

Screenshot 2020-05-12 at 09.51.54But we might also recall the past of shops and shopping. This means recognising the part they have played in the development of our town and city centres, most of which are still dominated by the architecture and infrastructure of shops. This built environment was created over decades and even centuries as successive waves of retail innovation have stamped their own mark, from the department stores and arcades of the Victorian era, through the spread of chain stores in the early twentieth century to the more recent malls and retail parks.  Change has always been apparent and competition has always been present: in the late nineteenth century, department stores that now seem like retail dinosaurs, soon to be extinct, caused a chorus of complaints from small retailers who saw them as leviathans swallowing up their customer base and destroying traditional modes of retailing. Fast forward and we hear similar concerns about chain stores that, by the late twentieth century were blamed for making one high street indistinguishable from the next – both in terms of their architecture and the goods and experiences available.

Screenshot 2020-05-12 at 09.52.01

In all this change, shops remained central to our daily and weekly routines both as places to acquire the things that we needed and wanted, and as places to go. Just as they shaped the appearance our town centres, they also shaped our daily lives, as shoppers, browsers or workers. It is no surprise, then, that shops and shopping can be central to our memories and identities, and our associations with place. There is a danger of looking back through rose-coloured spectacles, but it is clear that shops are remembered, often fondly, as places we visited with parents or friends and as landmarks in our journeys through the city.

100 Manchester shops

It was these associations that lay behind a project run by Jon Stobart and Michala Hulme through 2018 and 2019. Our aim was to recover some of the memories that people had of shops in and around Manchester: working, shopping or just looking. The project tapped into a real affection for some surprising places, from toy shops and fashion boutiques to Italian ice-cream parlours and tripe restaurants. It culminated in an exhibition in Manchester Central Library that ran from February to April 2019 – an exhibition that we have remounted online here https://mcphh.org/manchester-in-100-shops/

 

 

 

 

Manchester Histories Festival goes Digi.

By Karen Shannon, CEO Manchester Histories

Screenshot 2020-05-12 at 09.28.16

Manchester Histories is ordinarily a very public-facing organisation, we work across Greater Manchester to reveal, share and celebrate the diverse and often hidden histories of people and places. We connect people together to explore the past and shape the future through histories and heritage.

Our model of responding to communities, developing skills and confidence, and raising awareness of often little recognised histories, by working alongside people and partners as widely as possible, is unique in the UK.  Our engagement with and empowerment of people, both as creators and audiences is entirely in response to the people we work with and for. As a result, our work is naturally innovative, creative and different. But like many cultural organisations and festivals across Greater Manchester and the world, we have had to stop, delay, re-think and adjust to new ways of working due to Covid-19.

In lockdown the team has had moved over to remote working, using digital communication channels such as Zoom, Whatsapp, and Google Hangouts to meet virtually to review and reframe our work plans. As a team we have always been agile, as we have no venue, and we often work from home, or are seen visiting our communities, so not being office bound was not new to us. Although, we do miss a cup of tea together, sharing stories and the comfort of meeting people in the flesh, such as our friends at Manchester Centre for Public History and Heritage and all of our volunteers.

The people and partners we work with are very important to us and despite the lockdown we wanted to ensure we continued to connect with people and our audiences. It is crucial we mark these times, we are making history, we are living through history’s largest ever lockdown, in a period that will be taught in history lessons all over the world in years to come.

We had to cancel Manchester Histories Festival due to take place in June 2020. However, we will now present our first ever DigiFest, taking place on Friday 4th & Saturday 5th September 2020. Manchester Histories DigiFest 2020 will mark the 50-year anniversary of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act (CSDPA) 1970.  This landmark legislation was pioneered by the late Lord Alf Morris, who subsequently became Britain’s first minister for disabled people in 1974. The themes of the festival are Celebrate – Learn – Challenge.

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Alf Morris was born in 1928 to a working class family in Ancoats, Manchester, and raised as one of eight children in quite poor circumstances. He witnessed the struggles of disability first-hand in his own family. Alf entered politics and served as the Labour Co-op MP for Wythenshawe, Manchester, between 1964 and 1997.  He campaigned tirelessly to challenge the barriers that disabled people faced in everyday life. He introduced a Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill in 1991 and went on to establish the Motability Scheme which transformed the lives of so many people. The CSDPA is often described as the Magna Carta for disabled people, this was the first disability rights legislation anywhere in the world and laid the foundations for the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Equality Act 2010.

Alf’s most celebrated quote: ‘If we could bequeath one precious gift to posterity, I would choose a society in which there is genuine compassion for long-term sick and disabled people; where understanding is unostentatious and sincere; where needs come before means; where if years cannot be added to their lives, at least life can be added to their years.’

 

Alf died on 12th August 2012, survived by his wife Irene (Lady Morris) and four children.

Screenshot 2020-05-12 at 09.27.33

DigiFest 2020 will create a collective on-line space for disabled and non-disabled people to celebrate Alf’s Act, presenting their stories, ideas and content through a pop-up TV Studio, broadcasting live across the globe from Manchester. Working alongside our partners, Manchester Histories DigiFest 2020 will facilitate an open call for digital content and ideas to be submitted by the public, and together we will produce a programme of digital content led by disabled people.

The live broadcast will be a mix of pre-recoded and live content; including performance, comedy, documentary, links to on-line archives, webinars, films, virtual exhibitions, debates and on-line creative interventions.

Going digital seemed the only option for us, it means we can still ‘do something’ around Alf’s Act, and provide a platform for people to talk about important topics that are relevant to disabled people past, present and future. It will be challenge, like most people we will have to learn new digital skills, continue to use social distancing measures to safeguard those we work with and think carefully about how we make the content accessible to all.

But we are all up for it and will make it happen!

Personally, I hope that when this emergency situation is over, we will be able to promote more social solidarity and equality to start to build a better world; we have the opportunity to make new histories, where the attention will be on we and us and not I. A new history that is more respectful of nature, each other, less consumerist, less frenetic in our approach to life.

We will be releasing more information about Manchester Histories DigitFest 2020 this month, please keep an eye out on our website:

www.manchesterhistories.co.uk  Also, sign up to our newsletter to keep in touch. We will also release more details about the Celebration Day, once lockdown measures are clear and more certain.


Manchester Histories DigiFest 2020 is a collaborative programme between The University of Manchester, the family of the late Lord Morris of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Manchester’s Students’ Union, the TUC (Manchester), Manchester City Council and the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People.

For more information on other projects we have delivered please see:

www.peterloo1819.co.uk

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Twitter: @mcrhistfest

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