BBC Entertainment Productions North is currently looking for people with stories, photos, diaries or memories of the 20th century that they would like to share for a brand new series for BBC Two Daytime, The Reel History Of Britain, to be fronted by Melvyn Bragg. Using the film collections of the British Film Institute and regional film archives, The Reel History Of Britain will use social documentaries, tourist information films, newsreels, and government propaganda films to focus on different aspects of British life from the 1900s onwards, and trace the descendents of those featured in the films.
If you have a story you would like to share, please call the team on 0161 244 3289, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Reel History of Britain, Room 4061, BBC Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M60 1SJ.
A case of Scottish whisky, one of five found buried beneath a hut used by explorer Ernest Shackleton during his unsuccessful expedition to reach the South Pole between 1907 and 1909, has been returned to Scotland. The cases were found last year and have been carefully thawed by museum officials in New Zealand; the Scotch will now be analysed by experts at distillers Whyte and Mackay before eventually being returned to the hut where all five cases have lain for more than 100 years.
A team of researchers studying tree growth rings believe they have found a link between the rise and fall of past civilisations and sudden shifts in the Europe’s climate. Using data from 9,000 wooden artefacts spanning 2,500 years, the team found that periods of warm, wet summers coincided with prosperity, while political turmoil appeared to occur during times of climate instability.
In other climate news, scientists at Edinburgh University have used medieval weather records, including those from the diaries of monks, to work out why and how climates have changed over the past 500 years. The team has already found that historical data such as harvest records match modern computer simulations of climate patterns and hope to use these models to predict future climate conditions.
A replica of the first recognisably modern computer, originally built in 1949 at Cambridge University, is to be rebuilt at the UK’s former code-cracking centre, Bletchley Park. The original Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (Edsac) was the size of a room, and its £250,000 replica, commissioned by the UK’s Computer Conservation Society (CCS), will take three years to build.
Construction workers digging up roads near the village of Pustkowo in north-west Poland have uncovered what is thought to be the remains of a mass grave of Second World War soldiers. Among the finds were human bones, scraps of military uniforms, belts, gas masks and bullets, which are now being examined by forensic experts.
In other Second World War news, a collection of previously unseen photographs of Adolf Hitler, taken by his personal photographer Heinrich Hoffmann, has sold for £30,000 at an auction in Towcester, Northamptonshire. The images show the Nazi leader at the Nuremberg Rally in 1934, meeting Benito Mussolini and at an SS training camp.
Forty seven British academics specialising in American history and politics have placed Franklin D Roosevelt top of the first ever UK academic poll rating the performance of 40 US presidents since George Washington. Abraham Lincoln came in at number two, followed by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt respectively. Current US president Barack Obama was not included in the survey, but George W Bush was in 31st place, placing him in the bottom ten.
The Museums Association has urged London museums to take more of their collections out of storage and into the public eye in a bid to beat government spending cuts of 15 per cent. According to the official body, many museums keep more than 90 per cent of their collections in storage – the British Museum spent £86,280 in 2009 and 2010 keeping 99 per cent of its collection in storage, while The Tate (Modern, Britain, St Ives and Liverpool) anticipates spending £465,500 on storage by the end of the financial year.
English Heritage has published a list of historic buildings and heritage sites it believes to be “at risk”. The list includes the city walls in Hereford, the obelisk and the Temple of Theseus that stand in the grounds of Hagley Hall, and a 16th-century bridge spanning the River Avon at Eckington. You can view the list in full on the English Heritage website.
Three works of art stolen from museums in Glasgow during the 1990s have been recovered by police after two of the pieces came up for sale in an Edinburgh auction house last year and the third was recovered from the source’s home. The three paintings, worth an estimated £200,000 combined, include a work by Italian Renaissance artist Federico Barocci and a landscape by the French artist Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot.