6 September 2023
Plymouth’s popular annual History Festival returns later this month, with a refreshed identity and week-long programme focused on community and diversity. This year’s festival runs from 30 September to 6 October with a programme that features a great selection of history talks, guided walks and displays.
Slain McGough Davey, WonderZoo, said:
The History Festival has been a great event for the city for more than a decade now, and we’re keen to keep evolving it and attract new audiences to discover more about Plymouth’s fascinating heritage. This year, we’ve moved it to October to coincide with the start of Black History Month which has given us a great opportunity to collaborate with new partners. Many of this year’s talks and walks will be led by global majority individuals and groups. We’ve also kept events in locations that are central or near major transport hubs to make our programme as accessible and affordable as possible. It’s set to be an inclusive but exciting week of events!
Talks are being hosted at The Box and start on Sunday 1 October with a presentation by Greg Foxsmith and Matt Tiller about the Jack Leslie Campaign. They continue each day throughout the week looking at identity, representation and using digital media to explore narratives of black history (Daryl Codrington – Monday 2 October), social enterprise in Plymouth (Amerie Rose – Tuesday 3 October) and the Respect Festival and Hidden Figures project (Chi Bennett and Rachel Hawadi – Wednesday 4 October).
Plymouth and South Devon’s connection with the Far East will be explored by Dr. Mingma Lhamu Pakhrin on Thursday 5 October. The lives of children born to black soldiers and white women during and after the Second World War and ‘The Mixed Museum’ – a digital museum and archive that works to widen knowledge about the global majority – will be discussed by Dr. Lucy Bland and Dr. Chamion Caballero on Friday 6 October.
A series of walks will take people to a range of sites to explore the city’s heritage and include the city’s queer district (Monday 2 October), the changing face of Stonehouse (Tuesday 3 October), Americans in Plymouth (Thursday 5 October) and the history of cinema (Friday 6 October).
Refreshed case displays in the Active Archives gallery at The Box will highlight rugby player Jimmy Peters, the history of the Respect Festival, the work of the Diversity Business Incubator, the Old Plymouth Society and Plymouth History Festivals of the past.
The festival will be bookended by two special events. The first, on Saturday 30 September, will take place at The Box and will officially open the festival. Running from 10am until 4pm at the city’s award winning museum, gallery and archive, the event will include information stalls from over 20 local history groups, behind the scenes tours and a performance by Nigerian poet, Bola.
The Black History Bus will also be parked outside The Box for the day. Created as a collaboration between Diversity Business Incubator and Plymouth Citybus, and led by Jonathan Blyth from Arts University Plymouth, the bus is covered with archive images showing Plymouth’s black history.
Visitors will also be able to experience ‘The Bazaar’ street market on Tavistock Place and see the progress of a live conservation event featuring a huge history painting by Plymouth-born artist Solomon Hart (1806-1881).
A special closing event will be hosted at The Plot on Union Street from 6pm-9pm on Friday 6 October and will bring this year’s festival to an end in celebratory style with African food, storytelling and proverbs and closing talks in the Jabulani food court.
Jemima Laing, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children’s Social Care, Culture, Events and Communications said
I’m really looking forward to this year’s History Festival and will definitely be booking in to as many of the events as I possibly can. From poetry to comedy, and social history to sporting history, the programme is packed with insights into many different aspects of the city’s heritage. The stronger focus on diversity is really pleasing to see too, with a series of talks, walks and displays that I feel sure will open peoples’ eyes, as well as celebrate the success of projects such as the Respect Festival and the History Festival itself over the years.