Project sheds light on ordinary folk

NORTHUMBERLAND residents can help uncover the role played by ordinary people in the development of the region.

The Popular Politics Project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, aims to unearth a people’s history of the North East by revealing the parts played by working class folk in making positive progress across a range of areas.

Working in archives and libraries, project members have begun to bring to light a picture of the region not normally found in the books, covering issues such as the campaign to abolish slavery, catholic emancipation, workers’ education, the role of women, the Co-operative movement and the Community Development projects of the post-war period.

The interesting finds so far include a UK parliament election campaign banner from 1826 for one of the candidates contesting a Northumberland constituency, which says ‘Beaumount Forever’.

A number of papers written by Daniel Dawson, a prominent Northumberland-based political organiser in the first half of the 20th Century, have also been unearthed.

Another group of project volunteers are engaged in recording interviews with people involved in political change, industrial change, community organisations and campaigns.

One of the people taking part, a printer from Morpeth, said: “I got involved in the project after seeing a leaflet in the library and it’s been great.

“I have been helped with training in oral history, met some brilliant volunteers and really started to learn about the popular politics of the region.”

New members do not need any previous experience and can join any of the friendly teams of volunteers working throughout the region. They will be offered training to help them.

There is a monthly meeting where people can present their findings and learn from each other.

Project organisers the North East Labour History Society and the Workers Education Association are also looking for historical items and material, treasured or forgotten in attics, spare rooms and suitcases, to provide a good home in a public archive or library.

Anyone interested in taking part can find out more by emailing ppp@nelh.org