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The students whose research has been featured in Playing Pasts

Their research covers a broad spectrum of historical events and eras – including the Hillsborough Tragedy, youth culture in Merseyside in the 1950s and 1960s, and theatre in Victorian and Edwardian Llandudno.

The group of students have been studying Leisure and Sport History as part of a module which introduced them to archival research ahead of beginning work on their final year dissertations. For 2020, the module had already been adapted to focus on using online archives in light of teaching and studying under the conditions of the COVID-19 lockdown. Although access to physical archives has been restricted, the use of online archives has proved a bonus, with some organisations opening collections that are usually behind paywalls to free online access. 

This was the first opportunity each student had had to use their research to write a blog post – which has then been featured in Playing Pasts.

The featured posts are from:

Chloe Elen Rawlingson – The theatres that transformed Llandudno

Harry Morgan – What was the reaction to the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster in the 10 years that followed?

Imogen Bridie Allen – ‘A village falling into decay’ – how Dunoon became a popular holiday resort for the people of Glasgow

Lydia Robinson – A discussion of the reactions to the youth music sub cultures of Liverpool in the 1950s and 1960s

Olivia Ignatowicz – Dancing in 19th and 20th Century Britain.

Organiser of the project, Dr Claire Robinson, who is a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of History and Archaeology, also wrote an introduction to the content.

She said: “This project began when I approached Margaret Roberts, the Editor of Playing Pasts magazine, and asked her what she thought about adding an area to the magazine that would promote student work and told her my ideas. She was very keen, and told me she had been wanting to find a way to attract students to the magazine. This is only the beginning for The Student Zone, and it’s so exciting that the University of Chester’s students have been involved in its launch.

“I would like to thank Dr Donna Jackson here at Chester, who is the Programme Leader for this module, and has been very enthusiastic about my idea from the start.  This group of students have adapted so well to the conditions of lockdown and online teaching. The research they have each produced has been excellent. They all did themselves credit.

“My thanks also go to Margaret Roberts and Dave Day from Playing Pasts for their hard work in making this project happen. Both Margaret and Dave work at Manchester Metropolitan University and Playing Pasts is a wonderful platform for encouraging, facilitating and supporting emerging talent.”

Professor Meggen Gondek, Head of the Department of History and Archaeology, said: “Our students have produced some amazing work, and it’s so exciting to see it published on such a well-respected online platform. This is an example of how applied our modules can be and how flexible our students have been in their Work Based Learning this year.”

The students have all been delighted with the opportunity, and had this to say:

Lydia Robinson said: “I feel so grateful to be part of this new student led area of the Playing Pasts digital magazine. This research project was based on an area I’m really interested in, so it has been very rewarding to be able to share my passion with the readers. This opportunity has opened my eyes to the many ways in which historical research can be presented in the modern age, which is a much-needed skill for historians today.”

Harry Morgan said: “I really enjoyed working on this project and gaining valuable experience working with archives. The opportunity to write for Playing Pasts and getting my work published for the first time is fantastic, and I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity. It will look really good on my CV.”

Chloe Elen Rawlingson said: “Writing my first blog post for the Playing Pasts magazine was an inspiring opportunity. I gained experience sharing my research on an online forum. I enjoyed educating the reader about my local area and the fact that it was written for the student zone of the magazine gave me the reassurance that the reader knew I was still developing as a historian and still learning. The opportunity taught me that it is important to take advantage of volunteer opportunities that the University can provide because it guides you to make that first step to developing your studies outside of assignments. With the world becoming more online, from this experience I have recognised the importance of using the internet to still showcase your research, and the passion for your subject.”

Olivia Ignatowicz said: “I’ve enjoyed the freedom to choose what topic I wanted to do, as it allowed me to express my own interests in dancing and maintain my motivation throughout it all. Before this project, I wasn’t aware of the Belle Vue, so it was refreshing to research something new. It has helped me gain unique publishing experience on my CV, as well as other vital skills such as time management. This will all hopefully captivate future employers, as publishing may be a path I choose to go down. Thank you to Claire Robinson (our Lecturer) for recommending Playing Pasts to us and thank you to Playing Pasts for allowing us to showcase our projects!”

Imogen Allen added: “I have thoroughly enjoyed this project and have gained valuable skills in research and how to use online archives. Being able to focus on a case study has broadened my interest on different aspects of leisure history and I’m really excited to use the skills and knowledge I have gained in my future studies.”

You can discover more about History and Archaeology at the University of Chester by following this link  


Twitter: @HistArchChester and @uochester

The Playing Pasts website can be found at:

And the University of Chester Student Zone at:



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