Heritage Lottery Fund: Stories of the Empire

Earlier this year we were commissioned to by Heritage Lottery Fund to capture an evening of events discussing the involvement of the Empire in the First World War. The event was to draw attention to their funding stream encouraging people to investigate how their community was involved in the war. It was a completely fascinating event and we met an exciting range of people including veterans from the West Indies, currently serving officers, actors, historians, authors and interested secondary students.

The contribution to the war effort by soldiers from India, Africa and the West Indies was not something that I was at all familiar with and the more we learned the more fascinating we realised this hidden story was. Simple facts like there were more Indian soldiers fighting in the war than White British Stories to individual stories of young black men rising through the ranks to lead troupes made me question how such fascinating and emotional stories could be missing from the narrative of the First World War. One veteran of the Second World War, Sam King, who was also the first black Mayor of Southwark, told us of one example where this was case for him:

Please watch this video and then research some the background to these stories and find out how the Great War really was a world effort, hopefully more stories will emerge thanks to this funding stream from the HLF.

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Heritage Lottery Fund: Young Roots

We have traveled up, down and across the country making a recent set of videos. These videos were commissioned by the Heritage Lottery Fund to promote their funding programme called Young Roots.

The heart of Young Roots is the young people who have the ideas, run the projects and gain a whole range of skills and qualifications along the way. To make sure that we were really going to be speaking to our target audience we had a number of consultations with a group of young people who gave us their very knowledgeable and sharp insights into this process.

The young people we met and worked with did a fantastic job of informing and invigorating our approach to the videos. Their discussion of heritage and how to present ideas of heritage was essential in helping us develop the concept for the our initial video. We call it, This is Mine.

After the consultations were complete we went out to visit projects in Newcastle, Forfar (in Scotland), Cardiff and Brixton, London. We had read through a wide variety of projects that we could visit and sadly there were so many that we wanted to visit but restrictions meant we had to limit our visits.

We started in Newcastle and were just as excited as the group we were scheduled to meet:

We began walking along the Tyne to get some establishing shots and then walked through town up towards Circus Central and were really taken by the city which neither of us had ever visited before.

When we arrived at the old church that houses Circus Central the group really got our filming for this project off to a bang. Juggling, headstands, unicycles and fancy dress were all de rigueur for the day. These guys were so mature and clearly passionate and excited about their wonderful project it was a real pleasure to film them. After visiting the Discovery Museum and Tyne and Wear Archives we finished the day on a moor just outside the city getting some wonderful action shots that can be seen in the This is Mine video.

Our second visit was up in Scotland and, for a project about Heritage, it was particularly poignant that we were visiting Forfar. The town where my father and grandfather had both been born. Forfar is a small town surrounded by beautiful Scottish countryside.

We walked along the shores of a loch and climbed hills before finally dropping in to meet the gang of young weavers at the PitStop Youth Cafe. The atmosphere at PitStop was very friendly and we immediately felt welcome. It felt like a very open environment where everyone was allowed to make themselves at home and offers of food and cups of tea were plenty. We arrived, it has to be said, with some trepidation as to how excited young people might be about weaving but again we had underestimated these young people. Their passion and enthusiasm was infectious. They showed off their weaving skills, gave us a historical tour of Forfar before taking us to the hidden Angus Archives in the grounds of a ruined church.

Before leaving Scotland I managed to have a brief visit with my dad and grandfather to discuss their memories of Forfar and touch on my own heritage as part of this journey.

It wasn’t long once we got back to London before we were off to Cardiff to film at Cardiff Story Museum and Butetown Youth Pavilion. As with Newcastle our tour through city really took us by surprise, not just the glorious weather that we were very lucky to have but the vibrancy and excitement of the city. Sadly my phone was broken that day so there were no Cardiff tweets despite filming the Castle and Millennium stadium before even getting to the Butetown Pavilion..

We were warned that filming at the Pavilion on this evening might be difficult as it was a girl only evening and we wouldn’t be able to move freely through the building as it was a safe environment for young Muslim women. We were welcomed very warmly and if there were concerns about having two men roaming their corridors they were mostly hidden from us. We were limited for time so flitted between rooms filming art work, group leaders, articulate and funny young women, a small fashion house and an editing suite. We left Butetown to the sounds of laughter and with a clear sense of the excitement and sense of achievement these women had from working on a project with such a broad scope.

Back in London it was a very odd experience to just jump on a number 37 bus to visit visit our next HLF project in Brixton at the Photofusion gallery.

The work of this Organised Youth group was very moving. Their review of the Black Panther UK movement was clearly personal but also grasped the wider ramifications of that work and it was wonderful to see young people tackling these issues in a modern context. We met three young men who gave us a tour of their exhibition, talked us through how they had achieved  their goals and then took us up on to the roof of the gallery to let us look down over Brixton Village. It was a really great to be able to leave one of the projects and be able to recommend the output from the young people to my local friends as something that was really worth a visit. Even better is that I know some people did visit and loved their exhibition.

Once filming was complete we had a great deal of footage because everyone had such great positive and meaningful things to tell us but it had to edit down to three short videos. This took a great deal of honing and trimming and once those first drafts were complete we shared them with our Young Media Consultants again and with HLF. A little bit of back and forth between all interested parties has honed these fantastic projects down to these videos. The first focuses on the young people and their journeys while the second is targeted more at youth and heritage leaders who need to be on board to support young people through these projects.

Thank you to everyone involved for an amazing, eye opening experience throughout the project.

Young Roots — Young People

Young Roots — Group Leaders

The Home of Football

Last month we headed to Sheffield on a job for the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Sheffield Town Hall
Sheffield Town Hall

Sheffield is the home of modern football and, as part of a Sharing Heritage funded programme, some young people from several local schools had come together to research the rich history of football in Sheffield. Their project was culminating the day we arrived with some football games being played by the 1858 Sheffield rules at Hallam Football Club‘s Sandygate grounds, the world’s oldest football ground.

The World's Oldest Football Ground
The World’s Oldest Football Ground

Among the project leaders and young people involved we spoke to historian Michael Wood, Cynthia Wainwright from HLF and the day’s referee and president of Hallam FC Uriah Rennie who told us about the different 1858 rules – such as there being no goal keeper and the players being able to catch the ball – and the value and nature of Sharing Heritage funded projects that are available to any not-for-profit organisation interested in exploring their local Heritage.

The games were really interesting and seeing the players pick up and kick the ball made for a fun and exciting experience for everyone. The young people were really getting into the spirit of it with even some of the girls wearing drawn on moustaches and flat caps. With enthusiasm and beautiful weather the scene was set for a wonderful day.

Sheffield 1858 Rules

The only problem was that after leaving my cap on the train I got fairly badly sunburnt. Not what I had anticipated from Sheffield.

You can watch the final video here and then learn more from the young people’s research below:

The original 1858 rules are as follows:

1. Kick off from middle must be a place kick.

2. Kick out must not be from more than 25 yards out of goal.

3. Fair Catch is a catch from any player, provided the Ball has not touched the ground, or has not been thrown direct from touch, and entitles to a free kick.

4. Charging is fair in case of a place kick (with the exception of a kick off) as soon as the player offers to kick, but he may always draw back, unless he has actually touched the Ball with his foot.

5. Pushing with the hands is allowed, but no hacking or tripping up is fair under any circumstances whatsoever.

6. No player may be held or pulled over.

7. It is not lawful to take the Ball off the ground (except in touch) for any purpose whatever.

8. The Ball may be pushed or hit with the hand, but holding the Ball (except in the case of a fair kick) is altogether disallowed.

9. A goal must be kicked, but not from touch, nor by a free kick from a catch.

10. A Ball in touch is dead, consequently the side that touches it down must bring it to the edge of touch, and throw it straight out at least six yards from touch.

11. That each player must provide himself with a red and dark blue flannel cap. One colour to be worn by each side during play.

Sheffield boasts a huge range of footballing firsts, identified during the project’s research:

– Sheffield FC (1857) – the world’s oldest club.

– Hallam F.C (1860) – the world’s second oldest club and oldest football ground.

– The Sheffield Rules (1858) had a major influence on the modern game of football, stating that the ball should not be carried by hand, leading to the divergence of football and rugby.

– Bramall Lane – oldest major football ground with the first game played in 1862.

– Recommended a crossbar to the FA (1863).

– Oldest football trophy – Youdan Cup (1867).

– No players other than a goalkeeper could catch the ball (1871).

– The first game under electric-light at Bramall Lane in 1878.

– First insurance scheme for footballers (1860s).

– First radio broadcast of a soccer game (1927): Arsenal v Sheffield United which used a grid to describe the ball’s position on the field thus leading to the expression ‘back to square one’.