Mercury Class went on the first of two visits to the Discovery Museum to visit the Destination Tyneside exhibition in the gallery. The children have been working on this project for a few weeks before visiting and have had some time to understand the concept of migration before they went on their visit.
The collection tells the story about the people who have come to the region over the last 200 years to make a better life for themselves, or to flee persecution from countries around the world.
By 1911 one third of the population of Tyneside were migrants or children of migrants. Jobs in coal mining, shipbuilding and heavy engineering meant that the North East became a major centre of migration as people travelled from all over in search of a better way of life.
The story does not end there and recently the area has once again experienced a growth in people moving to the area. Destination Tyneside, reveals the fascinating stories of ordinary people who have chosen to make Tyneside their home.
Research into real life people revealed some powerful stories that now feature in the gallery. Visitors have the opportunity to follow six historic characters from their decision to leave their homeland, though the migration journey to their life on Tyneside.
These stories were chosen on the basis that they represent the largest, and most significant, immigrant groups at that time.
Ann moved to Tyneside from County Tyrone, Ireland in 1866 aged nine. She settled in Hebburn and married Irishman John Montgomery, also from Tyrone, in 1875.
Lena moved to Tyneside to escape the persecution of Jewish people in Poland. She arrived with her husband Lewis in 1874 aged 17.They settled in Newcastle and remained here for the rest of their lives.
Thomas moved to Tyneside from Ireland in 1874 with his wife Maria and their son Patrick. They settled in Jarrow where he, like many Irishmen, gained employment in the chemical works.
Jack moved to Tyneside from Cumbria with his family in 1890. They settled in Boldon where he became a miner. Later he became involved in politics.
Angela moved to Tyneside from Italy in 1904 with her husband Antonio and their daughter Anita. They started an ice cream business, Mark Toney, in Newcastle which continues to this day.
Ali arrived in Tyneside in around 1898 after getting work as a fireman on a merchant ship from Yemen. He settled in South Shields and became the first Yemeni boarding house owner. He was deported in the 1930s.
The whole concept of migration and the lives of these 6 families came to life with interactive living history displays.
Firstly the children saw their characters arrive.
Then children watched films about each of the characters years after they arrived and found out what had become of them while living on Tyneside.
The children had fun dressing up and acting out the characters they were researching during their visit.
The children traced the geographical spread of their surname on touch screen tables, finding out where people of their surname were most commonly found in Britain in 1881 compared to 1998.
They discovered that they only needed to go back three generations in their family tree to find a migrating ancestor. Tracing their surname encouraged the children who may consider themselves Geordies through and through to rethink their personal history.
This part of the exhibition send out a strong signal about life in the North East, fostering a sense of belonging and presenting an historical perspective on migration which helps to promote tolerance.
The children had a really lovely day, learned a lot and can’t wait to visit again when they will be invited to taste some of that famous Mark Toney ice cream.