Johnny Atkinson, played by actor Laurence Neale. Image by Reflections of Newcastle 1914-18.

Member Article

New project brings First World War Tyneside back to life

Have you ever wanted to step back in time and experience life as it was a century ago?

A new project entitled Reflections of Newcastle will take you closer to that dream by combining the latest interactive digital technology with good old-fashioned storytelling to bring First World War Tyneside back to life.

The initiative is based around the development of three new iBooks – each of them free of charge – which combine a rich collection of archive material with narratives spoken directly to the viewer by fictional characters through film, photography and written material, guiding people around the streets of Newcastle as they existed during the First World War.

Each iBook is based around a unique trail through central Newcastle, the idea being that people use them to take a walking tour in the company of fictional characters created and filmed by Northumberlandperforming arts company November Club, who invite you to follow their stories by visiting various locations in the city centre.

The characters are based upon real local people whose experiences of life in Newcastle during the Great War are well-documented in archive material. Each story gives a different viewpoint – a young man who signs up but returns injured, a woman who works in a munitions factory and becomes involved in women’s suffrage and the young twins whose father leaves to fight.

Links to archive material encourage readers to stop at certain points along the route and click to find out the role of a certain building in 1914–18 or to explore how the effects of war influenced fashion, education, theatre, reading and the role of women. Significant stopping points include JG Windows and The Theatre Royal whilst the tour passes iconic buildings such as Fenwick Newcastle.

Each trail through central Newcastle begins and ends at the iconic Lit & Phil building, near Central Station, home to the city’s Literary and Philosophical Society, which was formed in 1793.

The iBooks build a picture of the importance of the Lit & Phil as a social and intellectual meeting place for people during this period. The archive material from the war has been collated and edited by Lit & Phil volunteers, and student interns and staff from Northumbria University, whilst the iBooks were designed and created by student interns from Newcastle College. The narrative texts/ the stories in the iBook have all been produced/written by November Club.

The iBooks will be launched with two open days at the Lit & Phil on 1 and 2 July. There will be several live events across the city, free guided tours of the Lit & Phil and an opportunity to upload the iBooks onto your own iPad or borrow one from the Lit & Phil in order take a walk around Newcastle and see it from a different perspective.

The launch date commemorates the centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme, which began on 1 July 1916 and left many thousands dead.

The project is a collaboration between the Lit &Phil, Northumbria University, Newcastle College and November Club and is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Jane Crosby .

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