A Critical Perspective on WWI: York Alternative History Group Bring A New Series to the Screen


In collaboration with York Explore and with City Screen and with massive thanks to Gary Craig who has put the whole thing together, York Alternative History Group is co-organising a programme of films offering critical perspectives on World War One, one of a series of events acknowledging the centenary of the five years of the so-called ‘war to end all wars’.

The series asks how should we remember the First World War? Was it a just war against the militarism of Germany and its allies? A war between imperial powers fighting to extend their economic reach? An accident from which no combatant country was able to extricate itself? What we do know is that the outcomes were disastrous. Millions of dead, economies and nation states destroyed, a rewriting of the map of, in particular, Central and Eastern Europe (leading to the rise of fascism in German and Italy) and the Middle East (generating the turbulence and massive loss of life in, especially, Iraq, Syria and Palestine), and, of course, the Second World War, which extended the combat to become a truly global conflict. How do we remember the courage of those many who refused to participate?

YAH hopes to raise some of these questions through its events. This is an opportunity to challenge common perceptions and some myths, and discuss and debate other perspectives than those of government.

Accompanying most of the film screenings, York Explore will be displaying material including maps and photographs illustrating the impact that the war had on the residents of York, plus a brief talk to introduce the film and our wider programme of work. YAH hope to show films in future providing perspectives from some of the other major combatants (Germany, Turkey, Russia, USA).

A full list of the film screenings, with further details and booking arrangements are available in the City Screen Picture House brochures.

A compilation of short films, illustrating the context of the time: what 1914 felt like in the UK).

Kubrick’s anti-war statement in which a group of French soldiers revolt against a suicidal mission and are pursued by their corrupt superiors who demand their punishment.

An action film about early aviators: a humanist exploration of the devastating results of war. Winner of the first ever Academy Award for Best Picture.

Renoir’s first masterpiece is one of the greatest anti-war statements in cinema, a portrait of prisoners of war attempting to escape.

11 NOVEMBER (Armistice Day)
A special related film screening, further details to be announced shortly.

24 NOVEMBER 4.30pm – OH WHAT A LOVELY WAR This famous anti-war satire thinly veils the horror of the war in song and dance routines performed by pierrots who regularly tot up the dead on a scoreboard.

Castle Area and Eye of York – a gathering of people and ideas

Castle Area and Eye of York – a gathering of people and ideas
2nd June, 9-3.30pm
Friends Meeting House, Friargate

One of the plaques made for the Write Your Own Plaque Day on 12th May -  focused on trial held of those arrested after 'The Peterloo Massacre' in Manchester.

One of the plaques made for the Write Your Own Plaque Day on 12th May – focused on trial held of those arrested after ‘The Peterloo Massacre’ in Manchester.

What are the histories of the Castle and Eye of York area? How is it used today? How might we like to use the area in the future?

In 2003 the Coppergate II Public Inquiry reported, rejecting a scheme for a second shopping centre in the area that would have including building close to bottom of the mound of Clifford’s Tower. The accompanying statement emphasized the historic environment: ‘The Secretary of State [John Prescott] is concerned that the siting of the development in relation to Clifford’s Tower fails to have sufficient regard to the desirability of preserving the listed building and its setting’.

Co-ordinated by York Civic Trust as part of the York: Living with History project, Peter Brown, Director, York Civic Trust believes 2nd June event offers an opportunity ‘for a community-led project to bring forward general proposals to redesign the spaces around Clifford’s Tower, and to create, at last, a world-class setting for the world-class monuments’.

On 2nd June the aim is to bring together interested people – organizations and members of the public – to explore the histories, uses and possible futures of the area and, by the end of the day, distil down the principles through which any development on the site could take place’.

In advance of the meeting, York: Living with History will be calling for key histories and uses of the site to contributed via an A-Z of the area and for people to share photographs of the area through the ages.

If you would like to attend the meeting, email PeterBrown@yorkcivictrust.co.uk. If you can’t come to the whole day, we’ll have the results of the crowdsourced exhibition and the draft brief available for discussion at Friends Meeting House, 2nd June, 4-6pm and subsequently via this website.

Write Your Own York Plaque – 10th May

Blue plaque question mark

Write Your Own York Plaque
Meet at Friends Meeting House
10th May, 10.30am

What story, person or event in York’s history should be commemorated? What aspects of York’s history and culture are currently missing?

There are over 70 plaques around York commemorating famous people or events. Many have been put up through the citizen action of the York Civic Trust who, over the years, have been proactive in nominating and making the bronze plaques you see around town. And, as York Stories points out, plaques have also also been made by individual local people and families remembering loved ones. On 10th May we aim to share this process of public commemoration with everyone.

We will do this in a playful and do-it-ourselves way through our very smart (removable and safe) cardboard plaques. You could:
• nominate something you think is of enormous political importance currently not commemorated;
• create a plaque commemorating something about daily life of ordinary people in York;
• or write something personal to you or your loved ones.

There are two options for writing your plaque: pre-printed like this one for The Old George Hotel…or completely DIY!

Plaque made for the Stonebow Inquiry event and will be displayed on 10th May too

Plaque made for the Stonebow Inquiry event and will be displayed on 10th May too

Option 1: Write to yorklivingwithhistory@gmail.com by 6th May with proposed text for a plaque and we will get it printed up for you.

Option 2: Come along on 10th May and hand write your own plaque.

We will then go around town putting up each person’s plaque using very safe and easily removable adhesive and ceremoniously photographing it for posterity.

We’ll then post pictures of all the plaques on our website and via facebook and twitter. It might be some are so popular we get a campaign going to get them made for real!

York First World War Day-School: The Anti-War Perspective


Priory Street Centre, York YO1 6ET
10.00am to 4.30pm

The York First World War Day School will provide an alternative to Government plans for a ‘celebration of the national spirit’; and aims to counter romantic, populist, nationalist propaganda; oppose versions of history which serve to facilitate future wars; and offer explanation in place of commemoration. There will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions, to participate in discussion and to argue.


Lindsey German The Suffragettes and the War
John Rees Imperialism and the causes of WW1
Cyril Pearce The Anti-War Movement & the Great War
Donny Gluckstein Revolution and the End of the War
Charles McGuire Ireland & WW1
Chris Fuller Industrial Unrest, the Labour Movement the War
Steve Cox WW1 in the Middle East: The Legacy
Owen Clayton A Critical Assessment of the War Poets
Martin Bashforth Official Commemoration, War Memorial and Private Mourning

TICKETS: Solidarity £7.00 Austerity £4.00

Available from: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-war-to-end-all-wars-york-first-world-war-day-school-the-anti-war-perspective-tickets-11035767277

Organised by: York Against the War yorkagainstthewar.org.uk
York’s Alternative History

Sponsored by: History Workshop Journal, and York & District Trades Union Council

Next Open Meeting 23 April

The next open planning meeting will take place on Wednesday 23 April at 7.00 – 8.30 pm in the Bar Billiards Room at the Golden Ball, Cromwell Road, York.

We will be discussing arrangements for the Public Talk (see post below) at the Priority Street Centre on Wednesday 30 April. Help required please, so volunteer if you can’t be there this week.

There will be an update on plans for the First World War Day School in November and a catch-up on progress with the Living with History project and the successful enquiry day regarding Stonebow House.


History Talk 30 April


History Talk with York Alternative History & York Social

Date:               Wednesday, 30 April 2014, at 7.30 pm

Venue:            Denham Room, Priory Street Centre

Speakers:       Pat and Martin Bashforth

Title:               Diverse Evill-Disposed Persons

Behind the modern, comfortable presentation of Cannon Hall Country House Museum lie tales of war, revolution, murder, migration, poverty, theft, injustice and the role of women in the social turbulence of 17th century Yorkshire. A04 - Title Page

Can we combine history research with contemporary art practice to represent the past in today’s landscape?

Do these ignored stories surrounding Cannon Hall have any relevance to life in the 21st century?

What chance does such an ‘alternative history’ have of being seen and heard?

Pat and Martin Bashforth will use a variety of media to explore and present their research into the past and present of Cannon Hall and its surrounding landscape and invite your answers to questions like these.

[Free entry on the door, with a collection]