We’re super excited today as we get to introduce you to our new guest blogger! Anya is just like Love Middlesbrough Lass Rach in that she absolutely loves history so she is the perfect person to tell you all about how fab Local History Month 2018 has been! Over to you Anya…
I’m Anya and I work as the Marketing Intern alongside the Love Middlesbrough Lasses. I am super excited to be writing my first blog for Love Middlesbrough, especially as it is about one of my favourite subjects – History! I am a Politics and History student and first became interested in history after a trip to the World War I battlefields, and have been interested in war history and female history since. I was really excited to learn that there was events about the World Wars and women of Teesside in this year’s Local History Month.
The first event I attended was the official launch of Middlesbrough’s Local History Month at Middlesbrough Town Hall: From Opening to Re-opening, a talk by Dr Tosh Warwick from Huddersfield University. The talk took place in the spectacular Courtroom in the newly refurbished Town Hall – I will never tire of looking at that pretty ceiling *heart eyes emoji*
The audience was taken on a journey of the Town Hall’s life, from its beginnings as the focus of municipal life through to the present day where it is on the way to becoming a regional hub of cultural activity. It was fascinating to learn how and why the venue’s main purpose has been ever-changing since 1889.
Middlesbrough has experienced a Town Hall which has been a hotbed of cultural activity – a building to display the town’s success and progress. A Town Hall which was the epicentre of Middlesbrough’s efforts and action during World War I, a Town Hall which held meetings against women’s suffrage and a Town Hall that was damaged by World War II. The second half of the 20th century saw the Town Hall become known as a hub of entertainment seeing the likes of David Bowie, Oasis and The Jam take to the stage!
Next up during my month of Local History was Wartime Middlesbrough: History talk 1939-1945. The audience included Jim, the last remaining survivor from the 1942 air raid on Middlesbrough train station. We were truly lucky to hear how much he still remembered, exactly 76 years to the day since the bombings, when Jim was just ten years old. It was fascinating to hear his accounts and truly remarkable how much he still remembers!
It really proves how memories of a life changing event stay with you forever. Jim told us how his Auntie was on the train that got hit and she still survived along with her carton of fresh eggs – how amazing! Listening to Jim was my highlight of Local History Month and a truly fascinating primary account of how Middlesbrough changed during the war.
For people who aren’t as interested in history it should be noted that Local History Month isn’t just a programme of events talking about the past. A big focus is the chance to learn about how the present day merges with the past, to understand how the past shapes our future.
Liz Hayward took a group on an adventure around the newly refurbished Town Hall, showing off how fantastic it now looks, whilst telling us captivating stories about the rooms. This is my chance to once again mention the court room – did I tell you how beautiful it is?! The audience was also in awe, urging each other to look up and the gasps and reactions that followed were so rewarding for Liz, the Town Hall’s Engagement and Learning Officer.
Another crowd favourite was the police cells – an area that provoked question and intrigue. Who was locked up here? How were they punished? What does all the graffiti mean? One audience member couldn’t believe how clean the cells were. If you haven’t had the chance to experience the Town Hall since its official reopening, I urge you to do so!
A Friday afternoon during Local History Month saw me and two of the other Love Middlesbrough Lasses – Claire and Rachel – take a trip to Middlesbrough College to commemorate a football match that took place exactly 100 years ago. On May 18th 1918, two women’s football teams took to the pitch at Ayresome Park to play in the final for the football cup watched by 22,000 people! This match saw Blyth professionals come out on top against Middlesbrough XI…of course we had to step up to the challenge in 2018!
The match was controlled by the Middlesbrough College Women’s team – who beat Gateshead College by 7 goals to 2! Yass! The match included some fantastic passages of play and was a brilliant display of talent and ability. A crowd of old and young gathered to watch the match – proving that Local History Month has something for everyone!
Local History Month wouldn’t be complete without experiencing a talk by the Time Traveller, Martin Peagam. Martin’s talk about Teesside’s inspirational women mentioned an astonishing 68 in the space of an hour. He confessed that time was against him and if he had been given more time there would be many more to include. I am taking this opportunity to mention some of my local favourites.
The first is Ellen Wilkinson – a junior minister during the war and a lady who transformed education for the better. Gertrude Bell was the first woman to gain a First Class Degree from Oxford University in yes you guessed it, HISTORY! Minnie Levick introduced aseptic surgery, Tanni Grey-Thompson won 11 gold medals in the Paralympics and Steph McGovern is a BBC presenter. Can you believe all these women are linked to little old Middlesbrough?! Martin Peagam truly is passion personified and if you ever get the chance to hear this talk I would encourage you to do so. You’re in for a real treat!
That’s it for my Local History Month for this year. What a month is has been! I am truly lucky to live and work in a town with such a diverse and fascinating history. I can’t wait to see what is on the programme for next year and attend some more remarkable events!