During the time I have spent at the Bowes Museum researching for this project, it has dawned on me that there is a whole new undiscovered world that is integrated in our lives, not only the progressive one that we live in today, but also our roots and where we came from. As our world moves forward at a faster pace than ever, it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of it all. In the archives situated on the top floor of the museum which I secretly refer to as ‘my penthouse,’ that overlooks a rugged but heartwarming view as far as the eye can see; conveyed in different lights, whether on a sunny summers day or a toe numbingly biting winter, the view never fails to inspire and it seems to encapsulate the memories of the generations before us that provide an escape into our past. Having not been on the project for long, it has become quickly clear to me that it delves into things much deeper than only filling in moments in time.
A name is sometimes all we know about a person, asides from their involvement in the war. Although we know nothing else – not their birthday, occupation or achievements; somehow, this fact manages to connect on a personal level, because asides from their name, what separates them from oblivion? This harsh reality check shows us that it could be any one of us that are just a name to someone with no substance in the future. While this is highly unlikely with the record keeping skills nowadays, the message remains loud, clear and strong. As a way to thank those who served their country when times were tough, however small their role was, it is important to honour the men and women who were involved in the war (in our case focusing on the teesdale area), by recognising their contribution. The roll of honour on the museum’s website has hundreds if not thousands of names waiting to be given an identity which leads me onto another aspect that I love about the project, and how the public are encouraged to contribute on anything relevant that they stumble across.
When given a folder of old registers, minute books, bills and sometimes even photos, it transports you back in time and the vivid images that are conjured in your mind, enables you to almost relive the era. Through exploring events and experiments such as the Teesdale volunteering corps, and especially being a Barney girl, it has given me a new and more whole perspective of the school I go to that had close connections with involvements in the war at that time due to the sum of teachers and house masters that volunteered. This is just one example of the many things that have come to light that has made me appreciate the history and determination of Teesdale all the more.
Being part of a project that is a real eye opener into the foundations of what I see and where I go on a daily basis, has given me great comfort, pride and a hint of patriotism. The fact that there are always new things to reveal and find right within our reach, especially with the combined help of everyone, especially the public; carries on the spirit of community that has helped to give and build Teesdales’ character.