Relive your Uni days!


Opus – 1965


We have just scanned and uploaded copies of the Newcastle University Students’ Association’s magazine, Opus held in the Archives in Cultural Collections. The project team members were Davina Pellatt, Sue Paton, Angus Glasper and Lyn Keily.

There may be some gaps in the collection, so if you have a copy of one of the magazines not represented in Living Histories @ UON, we would be delighted if you would bring it in and allow us to scan and upload it.

Does a story from your student days trigger some memories? Why not share them with us by adding a recollection to Living Histories? See for instructions.

We have also scanned and uploaded the Newcastle University College Students’ Association’s editions of Opus (1954-1964).


Doing Women’s Legal History – History@Newcastle Free Public Seminar

Research Seminar Series 2017


Doing Women’s Legal History
by Professor Rosemary Auchmuty
(University of Reading)

When: Friday 15 September 2017 @ 10AM
Where: Cultural Collections, Level 2 Auchmuty Library UON
Free Public Seminar

Please join us on Friday 15th September at 10am in Cultural Collections for the next in our History@Newcastle seminar presentations. Professor Rosemary Auchmuty from the University of Reading will discuss her research into women’s legal history and biography. Morning tea will follow — all welcome!


Doing Women’s Legal History

Women’s Legal History is relatively new in the UK but there has been an upsurge of interest lately with the approaching centenaries of women’s getting the vote (1918) and admission to the legal profession (1919).  There are also interesting projects currently underway in Australia and in the US.  But doing women’s legal history presents challenges for both historians and lawyers unaccustomed to each other’s methods. Here I’ll be focusing on the work of legal scholars trying to write our history, based on my experience of current projects: some of the problems we encountered, but also some of the successes.  We’ve found that lawyers are often too inclined to look for heroines and role models, to over-estimate the role of legal institutions in reform and underplay (or ignore) the role of activists (like feminists), and to see history as a steady tale of progress – so we have some myths to dispel and some reality checks to bring to some of the more celebratory work.  Yet there is some great stuff out there, and I’ll end with an example from the Women’s Legal Landmarks project which should remind us that law does have a role to play in bringing about change for women.


About the Speaker:

Born in Egypt and raised in Newcastle where her father was the first the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Rosemary has been a pioneer of women’s studies and feminist legal studies in higher education in Britain. She was Associate Director of the AHRC Centre for Law, Gender and Sexuality for three years before joining Reading Law School in 2007, where she now teaches Property Law subjects and Gender and Law. She is currently an executive member of the Society of Legal Scholars; a member of the Socio-Legal Studies Association and the (American) Law and Society Association; a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Prior to moving into law she wrote widely in the areas of women’s history and children’s literature, including three books: Australia’s Daughters (Sydney: Methuen, 1978), A World of Girls: the Appeal of the Girls’ School Story (London: The Women’s Press, 1992, 2nd ed. 2004) and A World of Women: growing up in the girls’ school story (London: The Women’s Press,1999, 2nd ed. 2008).. As well as property law and legal education, her research interests include gender and sexuality and feminist legal history and biography. She is currently, with Erika Rackley (University of Birmingham), engaged in a 100-strong collaboration called the Women’s Legal Landmarks Project, a major historical collection in book and website formats, planned to celebrate the centenary of women’s admission to the legal profession in 2019.


Most popular …

Living Histories@UON

The most frequently visited top ten pages on Living Histories @ UON as of 12:31, 04 August 2017 were:

Page Visits
Robert Oughton Collection 2,101
Hunter Rainbow History Group 1,016
Voices of the Hunter 878
Peter Sansom Collection 873
Interview: Andrew and Bill Whitbread-Brown… 650
Mineworker Interviews 543
Mineworkers, Aberdare North Tunnel. 417
Other Occupations 279
Women Interviews 262
The Scott sisters of Ash Island 252


Baroque and Beyond

In 2015, composer David Banney encountered artist Brett McMahon’s installation work for the first time and saw in it the dynamic interplay between symmetry and broken symmetry that he was seeking in his own music. It was then that they discovered the formal and conceptual affinities between their practices and so the present exhibition came to life.

The resulting body of new work is not so much a collaboration as a convergence. Here, two interlocutors share space and time, having departed from the same pre-defined point: the elaboration of six different works, each exploring a distinct texture or emotion. In crafting their separate pieces – McMahon of torn and brooding textiles and assemblages and Banney with surging, audible motifs – their paths converge, cross over, join together, diverge, and collide.



Paxton Colliery

Poppet Head, Stanford Main Colliery

Headframe, Paxton Colliery

We have just uploaded some photos of Paxton Colliery/Stanford Main Colliery to Living Histories @ UON.  These are from the collection of Carole Knott, who has kindly allowed us to publish them. Our thanks to our community colleague, Barry Howard, for passing them on to us.

If you would like to comment on a photograph, please contact Cultural Collections or sign up as a member and add a Recollection, using these instructions.

Link: Carole Knott Collection

Memories of NUC

Opus front page

Were you a student at Newcastle University College between 1954 and 1964 (inc)? If so, you may like to read the Newcastle University College Students’ Association’s newspaper of the time – Opus. These were scanned by Davina Pellatt.

Read and/or download them from our Living Histories @ UON site.

We welcome your recollections of your time at NUC. There are some instructions for adding a recollection at

The Birdwood Flag Conservation Project

Birdwood Flag After Restoration 2017

The Birdwood Flag After Conservation-2017

The Birdwood Flag Conservation Project
Amir Moghadam, UON

This blog, and the ones that will follow, look back over three and a half years to detail the preservation and conservation measures that returned the restored Birdwood flag to Newcastle’s Christ Church Cathedral in July 2017.

The posts will be presented as a narrative, relying on my own notes, images and memories and interspersing this narrative with comments from other members of the Birdwood Heritage Committee. The aim is to make an account that includes a variety of perspectives so that community members gain knowledge they can use in their own preservation projects.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…”

The Birdwood Flag’s preservation story is well described by applying Lao Tzu’s quotation above. The first definite steps in restoring the flag were made in November 2013 following a number of comments on the flag in previous years. The reality we faced was thousands of fragments of mostly reddish looking textile stored in a plastic back within a large cardboard box in a damp vault of the Cathedral.

Birdwood Flag Before Conservation-02

The Birdwood Flag Before Conservation-2013

The other reality was the complete absence of any substantial funding and support that would be required for a major restoration. No group of people who might have the expertise to manage such a project could be identified and the one conservator at the University of Newcastle, myself, was so occupied with other projects, there was no time available, even for discussion or planning. Everything had to be established and negotiated from scratch. As a conservator, I knew this would involve the creation of a strategy for preservation of the flag to gauge the feasibility and practicality of the process. Only then could there be some negotiation between interested groups (including the University and the Cathedral) and then applications for resources, grants or other help through public and private benefactors.

As a principle of conservation, the level of material disintegration of an object is also considered. The Birdwood Flag’s utterly fragmented and delicate state would usually rule it out of consideration for restoration. The time for conservation would be judged as having expired so that any effort to restore it would be seen as pointless or worse still, as endangering the authenticity of the item. Indeed, such conservation would be perceived as blurring the lines between conservation and total re-construction of the item.

However a different principle of conservation argued against dismissing the idea of conservation and labelling the Birdwood Flag as a hopeless case. The significance of an item, be it art-work or monument, argues for or against the dedication of scarce resources to preserve it. Even so, the integrity of the item’s fabric is very important in deciding its significance. An item can only be considered as significant if enough of it remains to show what it is.

There was a Catch 22 involved with arguing the significance of the Birdwood Flag in its disintegrated state. To do this, some assurance was needed that it could be put together and made recognisable as a flag of a particular design, dimension and colour. A bag of confetti does not easily lend itself to such an assurance. Many people engaged in cultural heritage work experience such dilemmas. This is the moment when a project is often abandoned. However the Birdwood Flag was too important to be forgotten. It narrates the sacrifices of soldiers of a nation established only 15 years earlier during one of the most cruel and catastrophic wars in human history. Moreover the flag tells a story above and beyond a tale of WWI. Produced by a community yet official, flown on the battlefield yet returned to the community who built its own War Memorial and ‘laid up’ the flag there, this object provides important evidence for larger historical and social enquiries.

Birdwood Group

From left: Major Roland Millbank, Birdwood Committee; Dr.Rosemary Barnard, Birdwood Comittee; Dr. Amir Mogadam, Conservator, UON; Mr. Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, UON; Dr. Patricia Gillard, Birdwood Committee; Mr.Julian Bickersteth, Managing Director, ICS.

The Birdwood Flag has been restored and this blog is being published 31 July 2017; the day after the Birdwood Flag was re-hallowed in a special service to mark its return to Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle. The brochure, Two Lives, tells the story of the one hundred years between the first making of the flag and its successful restoration and return. Further blogs will show the steps during three and a half years that brought us to this day.


“Re-Hallowing of the Birdwood Flag Service” Newcastle Anglican (1 August 2017)

“WW1 Flag Returned to Newcastle After Painstaking Restoration” NBN News (20 July 2017)

“Australia’s first flag forgotten, found and restored all in 100 years” ABC News (30 June 2017)

“Precious WW1 Flag on the Mend” by Mike Scanlon. Newcastle Herald (2 June 2017)