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Ghosts of 1945 brought back to life in an exhibition at Preston Park Museum

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


An exhibition and film which follows the residents of a post-war Thornaby street to present day are now on display at Preston Park Museum.

Community-led exhibition ‘Victory’s Children’ is the creation of award-winning filmmaker Derek Smith and has been funded by Arts Council England.

Two years ago Derek was given a photo of a VE Day children’s party taken outside the house where he was born in Barnard Street, Thornaby. The picture was taken in 1945 and had been passed down by two former Barnard Street residents.

Though the street no longer exists, Derek recognised his aunt and uncle in the photo and spent two years tracing the other ten faces in the photograph, capturing their lives from the street party to present day.

The remarkable results of his project have now been captured in photographs, films and interviews with the surviving residents and family members of those who passed away – some even taking Derek as far as Dallas, Texas.

Almost 300 family snapshots have been gathered from the residents to be displayed in Preston Hall Museum. The exhibition also brings Barnard Street to life with audio interviews of the residents.

Derek said: “I wanted to celebrate vernacular photography and explore community and memory through the lives of a working class community that has now vanished.

“We show how the individuals, homes and families are connected in an intricate web of photographs, testimonies and maps all based on the remarkable evidence researched from the 1945 photograph.”

Reuben Kench, Stockton Council’s Head of Culture, Leisure & Adult Skills, added: “We have always had a strong community spirit in the Borough which we are very proud of. This fascinating exhibition explores the lives of those former residents from a significant moment in history and gives an idea of what it was like to grow up in a post-war era. I would encourage everyone to come along and have a look.”

Victory’s children is open during normal Museum opening times until 12 July.

Museum entry costs just £2.50 for adults, £1.50 for children and concessions and £5 for a family ticket. All tickets are valid for one year from date of issue. There is no additional charge for entry to the exhibition.

For further details visit www.prestonparkmuseum.co.uk, contact John Beeley on 01642 528843 or email [email protected]