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History Gap


What to do

Take your group out on a walk in your local area (if this isn’t possible you could look at a map together). Ask the young people to look for streets named after people. Are any of them named after famous people either in your local area or nationally?  Are there any buildings or estates named for people too?  You could also look out for statues of people – who are they of?

Ask the group to make some notes on the names or statues they see.

Is there a history gap?

Find a space to do your research, this could be in the local park or back at your meeting space. Support the group to look up who these people were if they don’t know. Ask them to consider:

  • Were they men or women?
  • Where did they come from and what ethnicity were they?
  • What are they famous or well known for?

Make a chart with the name of the road / building / statue down one side.  Put different characteristics along the top like ‘male’ ‘female’ ‘black’ ‘white’ ‘South East Asian’ etc.  Tick off on the chart everything you can find about the names you have found.

Ask the group to share what they have found. When together ask them to think about

  • What sort of people get places named after them in the UK?
  • Who has statues of them built?
  • Whose history is being told in our place names and public spaces?

Does it matter?

Does who we celebrate with road names and statues influence how we see our past? Might it change our view of our shared history if we leave some people out? Are all the people whose names you found in your area worthy of celebration and respect?

If you want to extend the activity get the group to redraw the map. Who would they like to see have streets named after them and why?

If you found a history gap in your area, you could write a letter to your local council or MP telling them what you think is important when naming new buildings and places locally – perhaps suggest some people you feel should have streets or buildings named after them in your area.

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