The Regional Heritage Centre

An image of Carlisle Castle
Carlisle Castle, home of Cumbria's Museum of Military Life

The Regional Heritage Centre (RHC) promotes and celebrates the rich social and cultural heritage of North West England by engaging with heritage bodies around the North West and our regional community. In addition to our programme of public events, we hold archives of national significance, including the Elizabeth Roberts Working Class Oral History Archive, and deliver a PGCert in Regional and Local History by distance learning.

One important strand of our work is the training of students, many of whom go on to work in the heritage sector. Learning how to research and handle primary sources from archival material is a vital part of their education, and the work experience our students obtain helps put them in confident stead as they move forward after graduation. But the relationship with museums and archives is mutually beneficial, as our students offer welcome assistance on a wide variety of projects every year.

We are deeply grateful for the support we have received for our undergraduate and postgraduate placement programmes. This support has enabled us to cover student travel costs, which has in turn helped us to diversify the range of placements we offer. Over the past several years, we have partnered with organisations, institutions and groups in and beyond the North West including the Duchy of Lancaster, Lancashire Archives, the RAF Museum, the National Trust and Lloyd’s of London.

This year, we supported nineteen students in completing placements. We keep in regular contact with our students while they are on placement, and below we have shared updates we received from two students, Erdem Aslan and Lena Dacca, about their experiences.

Erdem is an MA History student, and he completed his placement with the RAF Museum, in Cosford, near Birmingham, this year under the supervision of Dr Megan Kelleher, the museum’s Historian and Academic Access Manager. Shortly after making his first trip to the museum, Erdem sent us the following update:

"My placement is supporting the RAF Museum with the development of National Cold War Exhibition and involves reviewing the content and examining the language of display kiosks at the museum. Last week, I visited the museum to examine the kiosks. I also inspected the aircrafts I am researching as part of my placement to understand flying practice, pilots’ experiences, and technological advancements of the time.

"Megan introduced different parts of the museum and explained how to preserve artefacts and what the process of taking care of them is. I even got to meet the curator of the exhibition, who described his approach and the motives of the exhibition. We discussed our pathway for creating content with Megan and decided on our next steps."

Lena is a second year BA History Student, and she recently finished a placement with Cumbria's Museum of Military Life under the guidance of Museum Manager Jules Wooding. When Lena began her placement, she sent us a quick 'postcard' to let us know what she was up to:

"My task is to research Carlisle Castle's military connections to create a tour script for the museum and outer ward of the Castle. I am carrying out this research mainly by examining the newspapers from the 19th and 20th centuries stored on microfilm at Carlisle Library to extract any key information.

"I am honoured to be a part of starting the research for this project, and more generally to be a part of bringing Carlisle's military history to life. Combing through the hundreds of newspaper publications on microfilm has been fascinating, and I am looking forward to continuing doing so and seeing what they have to offer. My experience at placement in Carlisle has been fantastic so far."

Our thanks go to Lena and Erdem for providing these illustrations of how our students are giving their best efforts to our heritage partners – and benefitting so much in return! Our thanks, moreover, go to our network of patrons, friends and supporters, who have enabled us to make these opportunities possible.

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