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Style & Stuff Editorial

libarch20.jpg The past is a foreign country…
 

Gateshead Archive is a fabulous new initiative, which will let you dig deep into your local and family history. What’s more, it’s free and open for anyone to use.

The headline above is taken from the immortal first line of L.P. Hartley’s novel ‘The Go-Between’ (the full text reads: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”). It wistfully condenses the problems inherent to memory and history. Distant, intangible, unreliable, lost – our histories are, at best, half-remembered, and, at worst, actively misrepresented. That’s why initiatives such as the Gateshead Archive are so important. It’s a wholly impressive collection that contains first-hand accounts of times past and whether you’re interested in tracing the history of your family, or the history of your house or village, or you’re merely interested in the events that helped shaped where we are today, then it should prove an invaluable resource.

Their collections include: thousands of books about the history of Gateshead and the wider north-east; old maps of Gateshead’s towns and villages from the 1850s onwards; newspapers from the 1700s to the present day; and photographs from the past 150 years.

You can browse hundreds of items without an appointment and access fragile and rare material on their new touchscreens (their friendly staff are always on hand to help get you started).

They also have an events programme and some of the key events include ‘The Butcher’s Tale’, a re-imagining of a true crime in Windy Nook (see page 44 for more on this). They are also holding the Gateshead History Festival in partnership with Northumbria University (30 April-21 May) featuring talks from leading historians and authors. Book these online at: gateshead.gov.uk/whatson.

The Archive is situated in Gateshead Central Library, Prince Consort Road, open Monday-Saturday during library opening hours. (You will find plenty of study space and public computers plus a welcoming café and gift shop.)