The Bomb Squad. © South Tyneside Local Studies Library
South Tyneside history enthusiasts are being given the chance to learn how past conflicts have helped to shape their local area with a new initiative that aims to open up libraries and archives to a wider audience.
A local history group for young people is being set up at South Shields Central Library thanks to £9,400 in funding secured from the national Their Past Your Future 2 (TPYF2) Programme.
In the first stages of the project, called Remembering South Tyneside Wartime Memories, the history group will look at the effects of World War II locally, including bomb damage, coastal defences, the roles that local people played and the effect on industry.
Bomb damage in South Shields during WWII. © South Tyneside Local Studies Library
Other topics will include those who went to war, what happened to them and what affect this had on families back at home. The group will be able to use resources in the Local Studies Collection and Tyne and Wear Archives - such as the wartime photographs of South Shields taken by Amy Flagg - to help with the project.
“I would like people across communities to have the opportunity to engage with the project and for different generations to have the opportunity to learn from one another, to develop a better understanding of the experience of conflict and the lessons learned from wartime experience,” explained Anne Sharp, the Local Studies Librarian at South Tyneside Local Studies Library.
As well as Tyne and Wear Archives, the scheme has also secured the partnership support of Bold As Brass Theatre Group for Young People, who will be using the resources created to produce a drama exploring conflict in the wider context. This will then be taken out to schools and performed in June and November 2009.
© South Tyneside Local Studies Library
The project is in its early days and there are many different ways in which the public can become involved – from identifying topics and resources for research and helping to develop the local history resource to working with the local history group, writing or typing up memories – even making the tea for volunteers.
“The success of the project will lie with the people, and smaller projects, who engage with it,” added Anne. “What I want is for people to have the chance to participate and get involved in something that has the potential to really enrich people’s lives."
"For me that’s what this project is all about. It’s not about glorifying war, it’s about learning from archives and learning from the past.”
Bomb damage to the South Shields Town Hall. © South Tyneside Local Studies Library
To get involved or to simply find out more about the project contact Ann Sharp at the Local Studies Library, Central Library, Prince Georg Square, South Shields, Tyne and Wear, NE33 2PE. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0191 424 7860
Their Past Your Future explores innovative and creative ways of increasing community learning and young people's knowledge and understanding of the impact and ongoing legacy of 20th century conflict on people and places in the UK and around the world. It is being managed by the Museums, Libraries and Archives (MLA) Partnership and funded by the Big Lottery Fund.