Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners material at the People’s History Museum

A guest post from Archive volunteer and UCLan placement student, Emily Fisher.

With the release of the film Pride on the 12 September 2014, there has been a large increase in interest in the Lesbian and Gay Support the Miners (LGSM) material held by the Labour History Archive and Study Centre. LGSM set up during the 1984 – 1985 miners strike and served to challenge many prejudices. By 1985 there were 11 LGSM groups all over the country; the London group alone raised £11,000 by December 1985. The recognition of LGBT rights by the unions and Labour movements during the miners’ strike led to a formation of a network of LGBT groups for the members of the Trade Unions, which is still going strong today.LGSm image 2

The archive holds two boxes full of posters, pamphlets, hymn sheets, newspaper articles and minutes from numerous meetings. Although, predominantly the boxes are focused on LGSM, there are other collections available. One example is the Labour campaign for lesbian and gays rights. Within this collection there is the “Legislation for Lesbian and Gay Rights: A Manifesto”, this ultimately is the Labour Party campaigning for more equality for LGBT groups with regard to the Labour movement.

The collection also contains an end of year report on the work carried out by the by the London district of the Communist Party of Great Britain, with regard to the Lesbian and Gay advisory. This report states the work carried out by the CPGB to help lesbians and gays obtain the rights they deserve.

The support of the Communist Party of Great Britain continues, when a campaign by the conservatives to petition against the introduction of homosexual and lesbian education is met fiercely by the CPGB, with letters and posters being published asking for all LGBT groups to come together and complain against this petition.

The second box particularly focuses on members of the LGSM movement, along with letters to and from the movement. There are numerous letters containing donations to the movement which suggests that they obtained a huge amount of support across the nation considering the amount of donation letters there are in the collection. Within the collection there is some material solely based on the miners’ strike itself and its progress. This collection on the whole is extremely interesting and contains some excellent material focussing on a topic that is very personal to a vast amount of people.


Work in Progress – Week 6

Week 6 of Work in Progress was exceptionally busy, with pretty much an event every day.  We kicked things off on Saturday with a very inspiring talk from Alex Jones of the English Disco Lovers.  He talked about how it all started in a field in Somerset, his influences as a Quaker and an artist, spreading the disco love across the country and his top tips for campaigning (including harnessing the power of social media and making sure you give yourself a break every now and again!).

18 Aug - 9 Sept, SELFIE_SHOW-OFF by Karol Kochanowski @ People's History Museum (34)On Sunday we peeled back the boards for the Private View of #SELFIE_SHOW-OFF by Karol Kochanowski.  Karol’s abstract paintings focus on the artist’s personality as an intrinsic part of his artwork.  The exhibition is part of the Manchester Pride Fringe and will be displayed alongside Work in Progress until 9 September.


The museum’s events team gathered on Monday morning to brainstorm ideas for our Winter Events Programme.  Traditionally the winter season is usually our quietest, but we’ve got some exciting events in the pipeline, including the LGBT History Festival in February.  Bob Bonner from Friends of London Road Fire Station popped in in the afternoon to do a talk about the history of the building.  Bob gave us a great insight into the design, use and life of the building, especially how much it means to people and how many memories people have of the place.

Bethan Foulkes Live ResearchResearcher Bethan Foulkes was in residence from Tuesday to Thursday, looking at historical experiences of unemployment in our collections and chatting to visitors about their contemporary experiences.  She rounded off her Live Research with an event on Thursday afternoon, encouraging visitors to get hands on with some archive material.

On Tuesday a group of us met to discuss our plans for Hands on History, our new object handling programme that will be delivered by volunteers. We’re going to be trialling the session next year, and we’re currently planning what objects we should include.  The theme will be World War I to link in with our current exhibition A Land Fit For Heroes, our Living History performance Baddies, and of course the First World War Centenary. We’ll keep you updated with how the project develops.

Two young people from the Trailblazers project visited on Wednesday.  They’re working on developing an interactive map of cultural venues in Manchester for teenagers, and came to pick my brains about the PHM.  After chatting about interesting facts including cheese and Peterloo, I seized the opportunity to talk about our events programming, how we can make it more accessible for young people and what they thought of our Welcome Wall.  Whilst they were here they also met artists Kate and Chloe for a workshop for their People’s Guide project.

I also met with artist Rebecca Davies to discuss her practice, Play Your Part and potential collaborations. Rebecca works within a participatory practice through illustration, performance and event and really connects with communities using quirky methods such as bingo and a travelling ice cream van. We even managed to fit in a bit of a rant about the London-centricity of politics!

LGBT case redisplay consultationThe end of the week focused on all things Pride!  Since the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act was passed in 2013, we’ve been very conscious that our Gay Rights case in our Main Galleries is out of date.  We’ve also recently acquired some new LGBT material, so we’d like to give the case and text panel a refresh.  With this in mind, I’ve set up a display case in Work in Progress with some key objects.  We’re asking visitors to vote on which objects we should include and if there’s anything we’re missing.  Come along and have your say!

We’ve been working with historian Jeff Evans to develop our LGBT history tour, which I delivered for the first time on Friday. The tour focused on contextualising the history of gender and sexuality within the social and political framework of the museum.  It was impossible to cover everything within a 45 minute tour, but the feedback was generally positive, with some really constructive comments on how we can improve the tour and things we’ve missed.  I’ll definitely be tweaking the tour ready for its official launch in February as part of the LGBT History Festival.

LGSM displayWe were very lucky to get a sneak peek of the film Pride on Thursday night.  The film tells the story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, a support group that was set up to raise funds during the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike. The film is inspiring, emotional and definitely the film of the year! If you want to find out more about LGSM ahead of the film’s release in September, then come along to Work in Progress and see some of the original archive material on display.  23 August 2014, Q&A with the cast of the film Pride @ People's History Museum (1)Pathe films used this display as a backdrop for press interviews on Friday and screenwriter Stephen Beresford, actor Joseph Gilgun and LGSM member Mike Jackson were on hand to promote the film.  Stephen, Joe and Mike returned to the museum on Saturday for a public Q&A about the film and gave the audience insights into the history of the group, the making of the film and their ideas worth fighting for.

We continue the LGBT theme this week, with Oliver Bliss’s Microresidency.  Come along and sew your messages of hope to the MPs who voted ‘no’ to equal marriage.

Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners

LGSM display @ People's History MuseumWork in Progress has a new display to celebrate the release of the film Pride and to highlight the history and work of Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM).

LGSM formed during the 1984/85 Miners’ Strike. They decided to raise money for the mining communities as they believed the two groups were against the same things such as the Thatcher government and the police. LGSM soon became one of the biggest fundraising groups in the whole of the UK. The Pits and Perverts benefit, held in London in December 1984, was a huge success and raised over £5000 for the miners.

At the time it was seen as revolutionary that these two contrasting communities could stand in unity against a common enemy. Pride, directed by Matthew Warchus and starring well known actors such as Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton, shows this unlikely relationship. The film tells the true story of the LGSM, led by campaigner Mark Ashton, travelling from London to a remote village in Wales to personally hand over the money they had raised.

The LGSM display in Work in Progress includes stills from the film, courtesy of Pathe films, and original LGSM photographs. It is also showcases some of the LGSM archival material which is held here at the museum, such as leaflets and posters.

If the display inspires you to find out more about the topic, we have an LGBT History Tour on Friday 22August. We also have a Q&A session on Saturday 23 August, which is a wonderful opportunity to meet some of the original LGSM members and the cast who play them in Pride. Hope to see you there!

Work in Progress – Week 5

I can’t believe we’ve reached the halfway point of Work in Progress already!  The exhibition has completely transformed from the blank canvas at the beginning and feels alive with activity, opinions and displays. The boards are now getting really full, with displays about London Road Fire Station, Hough End Hall and our exhibitions team asking visitors for their election memories.  We’re going to be putting up a display about the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, ahead of our Q&A with the cast of the film Pride on Saturday 23 August, so we’ve unwrapped our brand new display cases ready to go.

More photos from Claire Curtin's Microresidency, Thurs 14 August 2014Week 5 has been a really fun, busy week as we’ve hosted our second Microresidency with artist Claire Curtin.  Claire led two screenprinting workshops on Saturday and Thursday and spent the week creating placards, collages and polling our visitors with questions such as, ‘Is Jeremy Clarkson a racist or just stupid?’ Her residency culminated in our People’s Protest, where campaigners marched from the museum to Lincoln Square with placards emblazoned with diverse slogans including ‘Down With Dave’, ‘Save our NHS’, ‘Give Peace a Chance’ and ‘Outlaw Shaving, Beards For All’. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists provided the music and everyone had an opportunity to make a speech and share their idea worth fighting for.

Monday 18 August – Tuesday 9 September 2014,  #SELFIE_SHOW-OFF exhibition by Karol Kochanowski @ People's History Museum (4)On Monday we (I say ‘we’, it was really Josh and Mark – I ‘supervised’) installed #SELFIE_SHOW-OFF exhibition by Karol Kochanowski, which is part of the Manchester Pride Fringe. Karol’s visually striking paintings will be on display for the remainder of Work in Progress’s run, and the exhibition provides a colourful complement.

I’ve had some great conversations with visitors this week, including the brilliant Amanda, who was really passionate about shopping ethically and voting using her money, rather than at the ballot box.

There’s been a few postcards posted in our suggestion box this week that are addressed to other people.  One of our visitors would like to go to a One Direction concert, and another has gotten their letter to Santa in early. There’s also been some thought provoking ‘Big Ideas’ posted, including ‘The only way to stop racism is to stop talking about it. Bringing it up isn’t letting it go’. Do you agree?

We’ve got a very busy week coming up, with the English Disco Lovers speaking this afternoon, the Private View of #SELFIE_SHOW-OFF tomorrow, Bob Bonner from London Road Fire Station speaking on Monday, Bethan Foulkes doing Live Research Tuesday – Thursday, our LGBT History Tour on Friday and Celebrating Community Spirit, our Q&A with the cast of the film Pride on Saturday.  Then I’ll be off for a couple of days to recuperate before we welcome Oly Bliss for his Microresidency on 26-30 August.  Phew!