News from the Forum, Issue 5, November 2009

Welcome to the fifth issue of the Forum¡¦s newsletter. Here is an opportunity for members to post their news and promote future events. So please keep your news coming! The newsletters are now available on the Forum website, http://www.durhamweb.org.uk/historyforum

In order for us to share news and promote events to your members we would ask that you circulate the newsletters and event booking forms to your membership as soon as possible after receiving it. Members of your society may wish to attend training courses or events and any skills and knowledge picked up could then be used for the wider benefit of your group or society.

News from the Steering Group

The Forum¡¦s oral history training session was held on a blustery day in early October at Head of Steam, Darlington Railway Museum. Thank you to the staff of the museum for their hospitality and for providing the meeting room for the event.

Thank you also to Sheila Forster for delivering the session. See below for an account of the session.

You will be aware from earlier emails that the conference and business meeting, planned for October has been postponed. This will be re-scheduled for early 2010.

We are in the process of finalising details for this and will circulate information in December.

We will be updating the 2009/10 membership list shortly so if you haven¡¦t as yet returned your form and subscription but would like to be included on the list please let us know by 4 December. The membership forms can be downloaded from the website at http://www.durhamweb.org.uk/historyforum/

On Thursday 3 December the Forum will be hosting a talk by author Roger Hutchinson entitled ¡¥Walking to America: a boyhood dream¡¦. In the 1880s one County Durham family set off on a remarkable journey which took them via Liverpool across the Atlantic Ocean to America and, following a series of adventures, back home again. Like many others they went in search of a better life far from the mining towns of north-east England but they also hoped for something else ¡V a miracle cure. More will be revealed as Roger Hutchinson paints a picture of late- Victorian Britain and America and explores the story of millions of European emigrant who returned to the Old World after tasting the promised New World.

See Events Around The County for details of the event.

Oral History training session ¡V a report

There is a real danger that knowledge of our inheritance, culture, people and history will erode, not into distant memory but simply out of existence! Unless we capture and care for the personal testimonies of the past, we could be left with a wasteland of unanswered questions.

It was for those reasons that a team of dedicated and interested local historians met at the 'Head of Steam' Railway Museum, in Darlington, to learn how we can use a specific method to capture the oral memories and experiences of the past. Those who attended had particular interests of relevance to County Durham; they included the history of former occupations, family history, the social history of our police and the experiences of Muslims who have integrated into the wider community.

It would be unwise to think that taking an oral history from a person in relation to their life experience is a simple process of having an individual recall their story into a recording machine. The day showed that oral history is, to the untrained, complex. However, Sheila Forster delivered a professional overview of diverse issues such as ethics, legal issues, interview technique, risk assessment, technical considerations, reminiscence and project work. The delivery of the training was user - friendly, it allowed everyone to have a good basic understanding of these intricate issues and to value the professional approach, and care, needed when engaging with our communities to preserve their heritage.

This was an excellent introduction to the taking of Oral History, well organised, planned and delivered. However, there was no doubt that those who attended the course felt that it would be helpful for more time and effort to be placed into ensuring that the valuable heritage of County Durham can be collated, and used, via the use of Oral History. This was a day enjoyed by all; it would be great to have a wider training programme and to use the expertise available to train others to preserve our past and prepare for our future. [Article by Kevin Rigg]

Remembering World War ll in Aycliffe Village

Aycliffe Village Local History Society staged an exhibition, ¡¥Aycliffe Village Remembers World War II¡¦, in the Village Hall over the weekend 3rd and 4th of October. A well patronised canteen, a raffle and the sale of wristbands and lanyards, raised over £700 for ¡¥Help for Heroes¡¦, a non political charity that provides additional support to servicemen and women injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Society would like to thank 102 Battalion REME [V] of the Aycliffe Armoury; the Teesside Branch of the Victory in Europe Re-enactment Association; the Durham and Tees Valley Military Vehicles Association, and members of the other WWII Re-enactment Associations, who freely gave their time in support of a very worthy cause. Article by Brian Gargate, Aycliffe Village Local History Society.

Your memories WANTED for a new book

Were you working in the 1950¡¦s? Did you work in the shipbuilding, coal mining or other heavy engineering industries? If so we¡¦d love to hear your stories and memories from that time.

David Hall, (producer, director and author responsible for the popular Fred Dibnah programmes on BBC2) is currently writing a new book. ¡¥Working Lives¡¦ will tell the stories of some of the people who worked in Britain¡¦s major industries in the 1950¡¦s, when this county was still the workshop of the world.

It¡¦s the stories of your work, life and times that we want to hear and feel should be preserved. We¡¦re looking for people who would like to tell the story of their earlier lives and of the community they were part of. The jobs you had and what they entailed; social and family life, local traditions and dialects, courting rituals, the hardships and the pleasures in life, pit bands & miners galas, the decline of industry and the affect it had upon your community¡K. your memories of Britain in the 1950¡¦s and 60¡¦s.

If you think that you, or someone you know would like to contribute to the book please do not hesitate to contact Kathryn on: 0113 249 3001 or kathryntvftn@yahoo.co.uk

New Publications

Information from local historian, Michael Richardson.

Durham City Through Time, is a now and then book with about 180 images, all the old images are published here for the first time. The book also shows a modern colour image next to the old one complete with historical text, this is the first time it¡¦s been done in colour for Durham City. Some of my favourites are: Paradise Lane, Palace Lane, The Western Hill Hotel, The Gilesgate 'Duck Pond' area and the unveiling of St.Godric's First World War memorial.

The Ancient City of Durham, this book was first published in 1883 by H.T.Gradon of Durham City. The original is so rare only one copy has turned up for sale in the last 30 years or so, it sold for £240. The book covers all aspects of history from the ancient city, with a detailed index and has about 70 period engravings and drawings added with an introduction by Michael Richardson.

Both books are priced at £12.99 and are available from Durham City Tourist Information, Durham County Libraries and Waterstones.

Lead Mining in the Dales ¡V Can you help?

Over the last 8 years or so Ian Finlayson has walked the lead mining areas of Teesdale, Weardale, Nenthead, Alston block and Allendale.

He has photographed the old smelting shops, flue lines and chimneys where they are still to be seen and has gathered a fair amount of detail.

He is now at the stage of needing further information ¡V stories from grandparents, old photos, books and of where there could be lost detail he has missed in the above areas.

He is prepared to go, talk, see or pick up and return, any information available. Ian can be contacted on 01207 284344.

He is a member of the South Moor Local History Group.

A Teesdale Bibliography

¡@ The bibliography is an attempt to gather together in a single source-list the publications relevant to Teesdale as an aid for researchers, book collectors etc. Teesdale is roughly defined as the area formerly covered by Teesdale District Council. The scope of material presented in the bibliography is unlimited, requiring only that an unequivocal link to Teesdale could be demonstrated. Thus the list of publications includes subjects as diverse as local history, topography, guide books, geology, botany, genealogy etc. The publications include books, booklets and even PhD theses. There are 919 references included in total together with extensive indexes. Each reference provides details of the author, title, bibliographic information, the source(s) where an item may be viewed and a note describing any particular points of interest about the item or author.
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