Educational Campaigning within the WEA and affiliated organisations in the North East 1918-1928

Workers’ Educational Association project to explore Educational Campaigning within the WEA and affiliated organisations in the North East 1918-1928 wins National Lottery support

The Workers’ Educational Association North East has received £70,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, “Educational Campaigning within the WEA and affiliated organisations in the North East 1918-1928”. Volunteers, students and members of affiliated organisations (including the Durham Miners’ Association, the Women’s’ Engineering Society and Sunniside Local History Society) will be helped to develop the tools to research and creatively tell the story of the turbulent decade immediately following the First World War.

Made possible by National Lottery players, the project will run for eighteen months until July 2018 and will produce publications in print and online, performances, exhibitions and events, and even a pop-up reading room to mimic the sources of local informal education that existed in clubs, welfare halls and settlement houses throughout the era.

Following the First World War, the WEA was central to an educational and social landscape in flux, with educational and social policies viewed as central to post-war reconstruction. This project will focus research on three areas identified by volunteers as relevant to our shared heritage and present-day debates:-


  • Women's empowerment within the WEA and wider society. How did winning the vote but losing many wartime factory roles affect women and families?  What about the post-war surge in single women?  How did education seek to address these issues?
  • How were WEA members and affiliates involved in repatriation of people and regeneration of communities?  In an era where homes fit for heroes and a better informed and healthier population were seen as important reconstruction aims, housing, health, education and employment were all of great importance. Project volunteers and students will explore how those within the WEA and affiliated organisations campaigned to make good on these post-war hopes.
  • What became of the Conscientious Objectors and other radical thinkers?  Project volunteers and students will examine how post-war attitudes and campaigns were informed by wartime controversies, for example the post-war experiences of radical thinkers, including those who, like NE District Secretary Jack Trevena, had to deal with the potential stigma of their conscientious objection. 


The WEA is one of the largest providers of adult education on a national scale. This volunteer-led organisation has been providing high quality educational opportunities to communities since 1903. These opportunities can be in the form of courses but also include projects. 2016 saw the completion of the very successful National Lottery funded project, “The WEA in World War I in the North East”, and this, in turn, inspired volunteers to research the years beyond the First World War.

Commenting on the award, Project Organiser, Dr Jude Murphy said: “We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and are confident that this project will support our volunteers and the wider community to better understand the role education can play in shaping society, both historically and in the present day.”

Ivor Crowther, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund North East, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, we’re pleased to support this project which will explore the legacy of the First World War beyond the end of the conflict. Drawing on themes which are still so relevant today, volunteers and students will play a key role in building a picture of life in the North East for women, regeneration of communities, housing, employment and education.”

ENDSNotes to editors

About the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)

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Read the online version of the article printed in the Newcastle Journal on Wednesday 15th March: