New Issue of North East History, Number 51: 2020

Volume 51 of North East History is now available. Details from the NELHS Secretary.

Volume 50 (2019) can now be downloaded from the Journal Pages of this website.


  • 1931 Labour’s defeat and NE England
    • Back in ’83: A General Election Revisited
    • ‘Memory Lingers Here’: Are Newcastle’s Monuments Sites of Collective memory?
    • A Time of Heroes: How we will be remembering the International Brigaders from Stockton
    • ‘Socialists and the Drama’: The Dodds sisters and the Gateshead Progressive Players between the wars
    • The Scammells are coming, hoorah, hoorah
    • A passion for miners’ welfare: two generations of Ashington’s Minoughan family, 1872-1969
    • Crowley’s Crew: From Royalists to Radicals
    • Experiences of place and loss at Newcastle West End Foodbank
    • The Primrose League on Tyneside, 1883-1901
    • Schools & Labour History

Podcasts: Lives on the Left: A Labour History Project hosted by Paul Simpson, Academic Tutor in History at the University of Sunderland

Each episode features a guest discussing the life of a key figure in labour history and those of specific regional interest include: John Tomaney on Peter Lee, Lewis Mates on Will Lawther and Sarah Hellawell on Marion Phillips.

Other talks in the series are on: Clement Attlee, Fenner Brockway, Jennie Lee, Keir Hardie, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Sylvia Pankhurst, Mick McGahey, James Maxton, Will Thorne and Peter Kropotkin.

You can access these talks at – an excellent series, essential listening.

New Articles and Reports on This Site

We have recently added a couple of new articles on our Articles and Reports Page:

So Much has been Lost; Change and Continuity; the NUT in 1970 and the NEU in 2020. Peter Sagar contrasts the state of the education system in the 1970s to the current commodification and rigid control of the curriculum. He discusses the perversions caused by the league tables such as exclusions of weaker pupils to improve exam grade averages. The late 19th century serves as a benchmark for a narrow, arid view of the role of public education, a place we are being taken back to.

In The Newcastle Sailor Who Ended Up An American War Hero Thomas Bagnall tells the story of Sunderland born George H. Bell who served in the US Navy during the American Civil War and, injured in the line of duty, was awarded the United States of America’s highest military honour.

There are also reports on last year’s Peterloo commemorations,  John Charlton’s excellent pamphlet on the Great Newcastle demonstration that followed Peterloo and Dave Temple’s history of the miner’s struggles “From Jarrow to Orgreave”.

History For Change Network

The ‘History for Change’ conference took place in 2018 as part of the Heritage Lottery funded ‘Homeless History of Newcastle’ project. The event celebrated local history projects with a ‘radical’ aim or theme, bringing together speakers from a range of projects across the North East and beyond.

Many attendees expressed surprise about the breadth and diversity of projects happening across the region and the social relevance of many local history projects, as well as regret that they often had been unaware of other groups’ work.

Northern Cultural Projects has been active in the fields of community history and heritage in the North East for over a decade.

In 2020 we want to set up a network of like-minded groups, organisations and individuals with an interest in community-driven history/heritage projects that challenge existing perceptions and focus on ‘hidden’, contentious and diverse histories in the North East, including projects that use history to shed new light on current social issues and to gain a better understanding of the present.

Membership will be free, and meetings will take place in Newcastle upon Tyne.

The network wants to

• Act as a hub and offer regular meetings to share ideas and exchange knowledge.
• Foster new collaborations.
• Invite experts from universities, funding bodies etc. to provide advice.
• Provide mentoring for groups and organisations to develop project ideas and funding         applications.
• Encourage the use of unused public and private space for events and exhibitions.
• Share findings and stimulate exchange and dialogue through a conference.

At this stage we are trying to establish if there is enough interest to go forward.

Please let us know if you / your organisation would be interested in becoming involved by replying to this message or by emailing <>.

We have also put together a short survey at
to find out in more detail what people would expect from this network.

Please feel free to share this information.

The Unite Oral History Project

Have you or someone you know been active, even for a relatively short time, in UNITE or one of its legacy unions?

Interested in having your experience recorded?

The Unite Oral History project would like to hear from you. Click here for more information.

Contact at this address:

2019 Sid Chaplin Prize presented to India Gerritsen by Sid Chaplin’s grandson Grahame Chaplin

NELH Chair John Creaby and India Gerritsen

The winner of this year’s Sid Chaplin prize is India Gerritsen for her essay about people’s memory of Newcastle landscapes and how they affect their consciousness. India’s essay: “Memory Lingers Here”: Are Newcastle’s Monuments Sites of Collective Memory? will be published in next year’s North East History.

NELH Chair John Creaby, Grahame Chaplin and India Gerritsen





For a second year we were delighted to have Grahame Chaplin, Sid’s grandson, to present the prize. Here is his speech.

It’s once again a pleasure to be here this evening to present the annual Sid Chaplin prize, and to thank the Society for continuing to remember and honour my Grandfather in such an apposite manner.  As some of you will recall both Sid and his wife Rene enjoyed all that the Society offered.

The Sid Chaplin prize is awarded for a piece of academic writing, so it differs, by definition, to the majority of Sid’s published work, and although I am not on the judging panel, I am grateful to that cadre for their work, and twice now I can see they have not lost sight of Sid’s underlying motivation to write.  You see my Granda was driven to write and record stories of people and place that he thought were verging on extinction, but more than that they were people and places, and a way of life that he knew intimately and undoubtedly held close to his heart. And he was right to do so, because today I would say his legacy in a plethora of words both entertains, but importantly educates us all as well.

So turning to the work that tonight claims the Sid Chaplin prize: It’s a fascinating piece exploring the relationship between, people, their memory or collective memory and well known and less well known monuments within the City of Newcastle, and how over time the landscape those monuments occupy can change consciousness of the public to purpose and history of the very monument.

What the work makes clear – it seems to me – is that the people regardless of their knowledge of the purpose or original intent of the monument was that they are fiercely defensive of the presence, I think because over time those monuments, like bridges and buildings become intrinsic to place.

In the 1960’s Sid wrote of his first visit to Newcastle as a young teenager, not all that long after the Tyne Bridge opened, the trip from Durham, most likely by bus must have been around 1930/32.

“I stood on the Gateshead side of this top-heavy bridge and looked down into the mighty trough. On one side was the little wonder of a swing bridge and high above it was the great High Level……That was one view. The other was from the heart of the City and a scamper up the one hundred and fifty one steps of Grey’s Monument. Up the hollow heart of reform I went running and came out at the top to see the merry go round of the city. Because I hadn’t learned to swear I remember saying to myself ‘By Gum – I’d give two years from the back end of my life to come and live in the heart of all this”

And there we have the link to Tonight’s winner and Sid’s work – the academic exploration of the philosophy behind the architectural landmarks that make a landscape that in turn creates a community.

And now I’d like you to warmly congratulate the winner of the 2019 Sid Chaplin prize as I invite India Gerritsen to come and accept this trophy.


New Book: Professor Kenneth Warren, A Victorian Powerhouse

In mid-Victorian years, the development of Teesside and the associated boom in the coal and iron ore economies of south west Durham and the Cleveland Hills were wonders of an era of great achievements. This book examines this expansion in the basic industries of the North East and the accompanying transformation of the areas society and landscape.

The author lived in the North East for 14 years. Earlier on in his career he lectured in the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, before moving to Jesus College, Oxford. He is an acclaimed authority on the steel industry of the United States as well as having written on various aspects of North Eastern economic development, including Armstrong Whitworth, Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Company, and the Consett Iron Company.

Underlying this book, and all his work on the North East of England, has been a deep love for the people, places and history of the region.

The NHS at 70: The Story of Our Lives – Peter Mitchell

From Peter Mitchell,

I’m writing to you about NHS at 70: The Story of Our Lives, a national programme of work supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Our aim is to capture oral  histories of and about the NHS from people – employees, patients and others – whose lives have been affected by it across its 70 year history, and preserve them in an online archive where they’ll be publicly accessible and available for use by heritage organisations.

I’m co-ordinating the project in the North East, and at the minute I’m not only searching for likely participants, but recruiting volunteers to undertake the bulk of our interviews. We have previously worked in Manchester and Wales – see our website for some stories we have collected so far

I wondered if NELHS members and supporters might like to be involved in this? We are open to partnering with local organisations, especially those who would like to conduct more oral history research and lack resources; all materials produced in partnership are considered co-owned, and all the interviews we upload to the public archive (i.e., almost all the ones we undertake, subject to ethics procedures) are licensed for free use.

We provide all our volunteers with three days professional oral history training (from the same providers the British Library use), currently scheduled for January; volunteers can do as few or as many interviews as they like, and will be appropriately supported and safeguarded throughout. The project legacies will hopefully be 20 or 30 more people in the North East trained and experienced in oral history work, and a couple of hundred fully annotated and searchable interviews, plus artefacts and photos, gathered from people in the region, hosted at the expense of the HLF and free for use.

If any members or supporters would like to get involved they can contact me by phone or email – my usual working days are Wednesday to Friday, our current callouts for both interviewers and interviewees are attached.

Dr Peter Mitchell
Oral History and Public Engagement Officer – North East
NHS at 70: The Story of Our Lives
Mobile: +44 7768226650

Fifteen Past Issues of the Society’s Journal Now Available on this Website

You can now download the whole of issue 1 (1967) and issues 36 (2005) though to 49 (2018) from our Journal pages. This is the first fruit of a decision by the Society to make as many past issues of the Journal available. To access these downloads go to and click on the image of the Journal you wish to read.






Grants to Support the Creation of Catalogues for Archives

In October 2018 the National Archives will be calling for applications for grants of up to £40,000 to enable archives to create catalogues of archival collections.

These grants are designed to help archives improve access to collections and increase public engagement with history and the UK’s documentary heritage.

One criterion for winning funding will to demonstrate excellent potential to engage people and communities with archives and heritage.


More details can be found at: the National Archives’ Cataloguing Grants page.