Northumberland Teens stage 1940s Big Brother experiment

A youth arts project connected to the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad is transporting 30 Northumbrian teenagers back in time to wartime Britain by staging a 1940s Heritage Big Brother in Featherstone Castle.

Online PR News – 16-August-2012 – August 15 - Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, England – What would happen to a group of modern teenagers if you stripped them of Ipods, smartphones, Facebook and reality TV and transported them back in time to 1940s Britain?

A group of young people from Northumberland are finding out as part of 1940s Heritage Big Brother, a time travel experiment connected to the Cultural Olympiad celebrations of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

A total of 30 volunteers from across the county applied to become housemates and have entered Featherstone Castle, near Haltwhistle, where they are spending one week dressing, working and living as their ancestors did when Britain was at war with Hitler’s Germany.

They have left modern comforts such as TV, mobile phones, computers, convenience foods and duvets behind.

The experiment is part of Time Travel Northumberland, a project based at Woodhorn Museum and Northumberland Archives, and run in partnership with the Northumberland Youth Service.

It is one of 15 youth arts projects funded by NE-Generation, the Legacy Trust UK regional programme for the North East, creating a lasting impact from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by funding ideas and local talent to inspire creativity across the UK.

The project has been researched and planned over the past year by a steering group of young people from Morpeth.

Juliet Hardy, creative mentor for Time Travel Northumberland, said: “We are looking forward to seeing how the housemates respond to the activities the young Time Travel planning crew have in store.

Inspired by the archives at Woodhorn, the planning crew have recreated an immersive experience of 40s Britain, including chores, wartime rations, and clothes of the time. The young people will work with expert practitioners to try their hand at many new skills including making music and learning the dance steps of that era.”

Simon Pickles, 16, from Morpeth, is one of the time travel planners. He said: “We’ve learnt so much from delivering this event. We’ve learnt how to connect with local history and use the past to inspire people of our age to take a deeper interest in the place they come from.

We’ve learnt how to compromise, plan, negotiate and be organised, and we have learned to appreciate the sacrifices made by the generations who lived before us.”

It is not the first time Time Travel Northumberland has cocooned young people in another era. Last year, Heritage Big Brother saw 24 Northumberland teens experience life in the 1840s.

The project was documented by North East film company ACT2CAM and photographer Gilmar Ribeiro was highly commended at this year’s national Museums and Heritage Awards.

Reenacting the Morpeth Olympics
The teenagers entered the Heritage Big Brother House on August 13th, one day after the London 2012 Olympics closed.
During 1940s Heritage Big Brother they are staging their own version of the Morpeth Olympics, a provincial version of the games held in the Northumberland market town from 1873 until 1958.

The Morpeth games was a professional event with wrestling and athletics and was held on the town’s Old Brewery Field until 1895 and then at Grange House Field until the outbreak of the First World War.

After two years at the town's cricket pitch at Stobhill (1919–20), the Morpeth Olympics moved to Mount Haggs Field until 1939 and back again to Grange House Field for the final years from 1945 until 1958.

Time Travel Northumberland began in 2010 and has seen young people engage in a wide variety of educational activities at Woodhorn Museum.

Ashley Brown, senior youth worker at the Northumberland Youth Service, said: “What we have seen throughout the life of this project is a special transformation in the young people who took part.

They have grown and seized the opportunities the project has offered to them to become resourceful, articulate, intelligent and compassionate people. They are a credit to themselves and to Northumberland.”

Ben Ayrton, programme manager for NE-Generation, said: “Time Travel Northumberland shows that it is possible for the North East’s cultural sector to work with young people to achieve something remarkable and create a lasting cultural legacy. This project shows what can be achieved when we have trust and put young minds at the heart of cultural activity.”

NE-Generation projects have involved more than 4,000 young people from North East England who have delivered performances, events, exhibitions and showcases to audiences of over 200,000 people for the London 2012 Festival and Cultural Olympiad.

NE-Generation’s final event is a collective showcase featuring the work of all 15 projects on September 1-2 at The Stephenson Works in Newcastle, which is free and open to the general public. ENDS

Media Enquiries
Issued on behalf of NE-Generation by Honeypot Media Ltd.

To organize a photography or filming opportunity at Featherstone Castle, contact Juliet Hardy, Time Travel Northumberland creative mentor, on: 07736 048 024.

For more information, interview requests or images contact Matthew Moore at:, or call: 07791 798 185.

Picture Caption

Left to Right: Northumberland Teens enjoy a good old fashioned wartime sing song at Featherstone Castle.

Notes to Editors
NE-Generation has been funded by Legacy Trust UK, creating a lasting impact from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by funding ideas and local talent to inspire creativity across the UK.
NE-Generation’s motto is “Culture - Collaboration – Change,” and its strapline is: Investing in creative opportunities for young people across the North East.
Since 2009, NE-Generation has worked with 25 young leaders who, to date have co-commissioned 15 projects and allocated over £1million of funding.
NE-Generation stretches from Northumberland to Teesside and from the Durham Dales to the North East coast making culture more accessible for young people.
NE-Generation has worked directly with over 2,000 young people reaching audiences of over 175,000 as they seek to create a shift in the way young people and the cultural sector work together.
NE-Generation is delivered by the Regional Youth Work Unit North East, an independent charity improving the lives of young people across the North East.
For more about NE-Generation and the Cultural Olympiad:

About Legacy Trust UK
Legacy Trust UK is an independent charity set up to create a lasting cultural and sporting legacy from London 2012 in communities across the UK.

The Trust is funded by a £40 million endowment from the Big Lottery Fund (£29m), Department for Culture Media and Sport (£6m) and Arts Council England (£5m), and is a Principal Funder of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival.

About the Cultural Olympiad
The Olympic Games and Paralympic Games are about more than sport. The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad is a series of events to showcase the UK's arts and culture to the rest of the world, culminating in the London 2012 Festival – a series of showcase events across the UK during the Summer of 2012.

Our aim is to inspire creativity across all forms of culture, especially among young people, and to make a real impact. Its legacy will last well beyond 2012.

About Woodhorn Museum and Northumberland Archives

Woodhorn Charitable Trust is an independent charity which manages Woodhorn as a museum and visitor attraction and the home of the Northumberland Archives. The Trust also manages Berwick Museum, Berwick Record Office and delivers heritage, arts and cultural education and outreach work with people throughout Northumberland and online.