Research

Teesside University research project to uncover hidden stories from the end of the Great War

24 October 2018 @TeesUniNews

 

People in the Tees Valley are being encouraged to help shape a unique research project which will capture the untold stories, memories and experiences of local people in the aftermath of the First World War.

Dr Ben Roberts and Charlie Tait.
Dr Ben Roberts and Charlie Tait.

Rememorial WWI: Narratives of Peace in the Tees Valley is being led by academics at Teesside University and will explore the local mood as the war ended and people lived through a multitude of emotions, experiencing a mixture of hope, despair, joy and fear.

The project focuses on the often over-looked period between the armistice of 11 November 1918, through to the formal end of the War when the Versailles Peace Treaty was signed on 28 June 1919 and Peace Day was declared on 19 July 1919.

Rememorial WWI will preserve personal experiences of local people, alongside already known stories, examining themes including loss, unemployment, military injury, decline of industry, public protest, memorial and hope for the future.

A series of local roadshows have been organised in the coming weeks where local people are encouraged to come along and share their stories, memorabilia and artefacts with the Rememorial WWI team. The stories and artefacts uncovered during the roadshows will then shape a larger touring exhibition of Tees Valley museums, libraries and galleries in the summer of 2019.

Five roadshows are taking place, between 11.30am and 3.00pm, and people are welcome to call in any time on the following dates:

· Friday 9 November – Dorman Museum, Middlesbrough · Friday 16 November – Darlington Library · Friday 23 November – Hartlepool Art Gallery · Friday 30 November – Kirkleatham Museum · Friday 7 December - Stockton Library

Teesside University received £9,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the Rememorial WWI project. Led by Historian Dr Ben Roberts and Senior Design Lecturer Charlie Tait, it will create an innovative exhibition, presenting historical research and visual interpretation to engage audiences and create links between the events of the past and today.

A team of interns, student researchers, historical researchers and photographers has been assembled to assist with Rememorial WWI. But, the success and direction of the project ultimately hinges on what members of the public can bring to the roadshows in the coming weeks.

We want to find out about the stories behind these possessions, what they mean to people, how people were feeling, why people made certain decisions and how those decisions affected their lives during and after that time period.

Dr Ben Roberts

Dr Roberts, a Historian in the University’s School of Social Sciences, Humanities & Law, said: 'We are interested in any objects, artefacts or memories relating to that time period which allows us to uncover the stories and meanings behind them.

'It is exciting because we do not know what we are going to get. We want to find out about the stories behind these possessions, what they mean to people, how people were feeling, why people made certain decisions and how those decisions affected their lives during and after that time period.

'The War didn’t end on 11 November 1918 – there was a long journey to peace, but this time period is often overlooked. I am particularly interested in what motivated people during this time, how they felt about the future and how the experience of the War shaped their lives.'

Charlie, from Teesside University’s School of Science, Engineering & Design, added: 'Any object from that time period will have a story behind it. It could be something as simple as a teapot – but who used that teapot? What was happening in their lives? What is the legacy behind it?

'The objects people bring will have lived through a century since Armistice – I personally remember a shell case used as a dried flower pot - so the last question we want to ask is ‘what do these objects mean now?’

'We are aiming to capture these memories and meanings, before designing an exhibition to visualise them in new and innovative ways. In this way we hope to re-memorialise the people’s experiences.'

Ivor Crowther, Head of HLF North East, added: 'The impact of the First World War was far reaching, touching and shaping every corner of the UK and beyond. Thanks to National Lottery players, communities, like those who will be involved in Rememorial WWI, can explore the continuing legacy of this conflict and broaden their understanding of how it has shaped our modern world.'

To follow the progress of Rememorial WWI, you can find the project on twitter @RememorialWWI, or visit the Rememorial WWI website.


In the News

Rememorial WWI
TFM Radio, Mark Matthews, 11/11/18, Northern Echo, p50, 10/11/18
Ben Roberts is researching how the end of WWI affected people in the Tees Valley through his project Rememorial WWI.


Looking back on memories of Great War
Evening Gazette, p3, 07/11/18
People on Teesside are being asked to shape a unique research project which will capture the untold stories, memories and experiences of folk in the aftermath of the First World War.


Darlington marks centenary of end of First World War
Darlington Borough Council, online, 29/10/18
Rememorial WWI, a Teesside University project funded by the Heritage Lottery fund, will be holding a series of public roadshow events across the area in November and December.