Examine 1940s South Shields through diaries of Chuter Ede

A POLITICAL LIFE ... the diaries of South Shields MP James Chuter Ede will feature in the course.
A POLITICAL LIFE ... the diaries of South Shields MP James Chuter Ede will feature in the course.

OFTEN you don’t realise, at the time, that you’re living through a period of great change.

It can take the historical long view to put it into perspective.

Which is precisely what will be done in a forthcoming course which will look at what was happening in South Shields in the 1940s.

Once again the tutor is Dr Malcolm Grady, for the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA). It will run through and beyond April at South Shields Museum.

Malcolm, who has taught local history courses for a number of years in and around the borough, describes it as “an exciting opportunity to reflect upon what South Shields was like 75 years ago”.

“Over 11 weeks, we will look at one year of the decade each week.

“We will be examining what went on at national/international level, especially in the war years, and also from a local perspective, to see how the lives of our own family members were affected.

“We will be using newspaper archives, photographs, letters, diaries, maps and artefacts from the era.”

Interestingly, Malcolm is currently researching the life of James Chuter Ede, who was MP for South Shields during that period.

This is Chuter Ede when he was the town’s first Labour MP following the 1929 General Election. Later, he was MP again, from 1935-1964.

Malcolm is reading Chuter Ede’s diaries, held in the British Library.

He says of them: “They are a fantastic insight into the inner workings of government during the war years and also into his role as an MP for the town.”

The 14 diaries cover the period 1941-45 when Ede was Parliamentary Secretary at the Board of Education before he became Home Secretary in the Atlee Government of 1945-1951.

The diaries will be part of the material used in the course.

Malcolm wants to encourage those who want to spend some time learning about their town to go along and try out the course, which will be taught using a mixture of presentations, group discussions, looking at original sources and visits.

It will be held at the museum, between 1.45pm and 3.45pm, starting on April 13.

The fee is £53, but the course is free to those on qualifying benefits.

You can just turn up on the first day, or contact Susan Heptinstall on 07899065285, or e-mail sheptinstall@wea.org.uk for further information.