' If you have been engrossed in the Machiavellian politics of the last 3-4 weeks, it will have been largely through the mainstream media of TV news and the newspapers as well as the gossip of the social media, especially Twitter. You might have to wait some time before the main participants reveal all in their autobiographies or diaries once they have retired or have been sacked.
Well, looking through diaries is exactly what Dr Malcolm Grady, local historian and lecturer, has been doing at the British Library, London, on and off for the past year. They are the diaries of James Chuter Ede, MP for South Shields from 1935-64. There are 14 densely hand written diaries, each about the size of a large paperback book, approximately 100 pages, annotated by date and without paragraphs covering the years 1941-44 when Chuter Ede was Private Parliamentary Secretary (PPS) to Rab Butler, President of the Board of Education. The diaries and the issues of researching such a rich source of information are the subject of a lecture given by Dr Grady to the South Shields Local History Society on July 18th at the Customs House, South Shields at 5.00pm.
'Just sitting down in the Manuscripts Room of the British Library and opening the first diary was a special experience knowing that very few people know about them and only a few historians have actually accessed and used them' said Malcolm. 'The first diary from June - September 1941 covers his work at the Board of Education, his role as an MP for South Shields and his membership of several committees relating to the war effort. He has lunch with Churchill, discussions with Attlee and meetings with Ellen Wilkinson (MP for Jarrow) amongst a mass of detail about what pictures he went to see, where he gave a talk and what he had to eat......and then there is the gossip! That's the stuff of history.'
Dr Malcolm Grady has been researching Chuter Ede's diaries over the last couple of years and will share his findings on this interesting period of our history with members of South Shields Local History Group on Monday, July 18th.
Please note that to cover the period of transition from the Central Library to the new building in the Market Place, the Local History Group are holding their talks at the Customs House for the next four months.
Members will congregate in the Green Room from 5pm before going to the Dalton Suite at 5.30pm for Malcolm's talk. As usual, visitors and new members are welcome to join us with a charge of £1.