Unexamined Lives

The story of the 20th century as lived by residents in the Derbyshire village of Borrowash
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Recent News

  • Death Penny Announcement Published in Local Newspapers

    The announcement of the acquisition by Erewash Museum of the Margaret and Edwin Hassé Memorial Plaques (Death Pennies) has received widespread coverage in local media outlets.

    It was made in a Press Release issued by Erewash Borough Council in January and quickly appeared in the Nottingham Post, Ilkeston Advertiser, Long Eaton Chronicle and Long Eaton Website Extra. An interview with Unexamined Lives’ genealogist Keith Oseman was also played on Ian Skye’s Breakfast Programme on Radio Derby.

    The Press Release has also been sent to a variety of other publications and organisations. Three genealogy magazines have been informed as well as a number of popular history magazines. The release has also been sent to organisations as diverse as the Imperial War Museum, Derbyshire Archives and the National Archives. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has also been informed.

    It is hoped that the wide distribution of the announcement will stimulate interest with the general public and amongst the specialist history and genealogy communities.

    The Ilkeston Advertiser featured the announcement on its front page on January 26th with a more detailed report on Page 3.

    The Long Eaton Chronicle item appeared on Page 13 of the February edition.

    The Long Eaton Website Extra featured the announcement as a full page feature on page 16 of the February 9th edition.


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  • Unexamined Lives Exhibition Closes With Gala Night

    The Unexamined Lives Exhibition at Erewash Museum closed with a Gala Night on 29th November, 2016 which marked the culmination of six years’ work on the Unexamined Lives project. 

    Project Director Helen Clark said “We are very grateful to Helen Martinez from the museum and all her staff for the use of the facilities at the museum, both on the night and in the preceding weeks of the exhibition including opportunities for artists Mik Godley and writer, Chrissie Hall, to hold exhibition-related weekend workshops.”

    “The Gala Night was attended by 64 recorded invited guests, but the actual number of attendees was probably between 70 – 100 which was a very impressive ‘turn-out’ on a cold night in November! We were grateful also to be addressed by the Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Hardyal Dhindsa, the Deputy Mayor of Erewash. Other speakers were Claire Anderson who interviewed her father for the project and Keith Oseman who told us about the ‘find’ of ‘Unexamined Lives,’ two World War One Death Pennies donated by the Royal British Columbia Museum, Canada and cast in honour of brother and sister Edwin and Margaret Hasse whose names appear on the Ockbrook and Borrowash War Memorial. ”

    “The highlight of Gala Night was a performance of three dramatic monologues written by Chrissie Hall and detailing the histories of three women who had lived with their families in the Borrowash house, 17, Princess Drive in different 20th century eras. The written comments in our exhibition book were extremely favourable and I would like to thank everybody, including the journalists from ‘Erewash Sound’ who helped to make the evening such a tremendous success.”

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  • Eric Highton – Obituary

    Eric Highton, whose Life can be found on the Unexamined Lives website at  “All the World’s a Stage – Eric Highton”  has died after a long illness at the Royal Derby Hospital on Tuesday 9th August 2016. He was aged 91 years.

    His obituary appeared in the Derby Telegraph 30th August, 2016.

    Friends pay tribute to political stalwart and campaigner who ‘never retired’

    FRIENDS paid tribute to a staple of local politics who “never really retired”, after he died, aged 91.

    Eric Highton had many roles including as councillor for Ockbrook Parish Council, a primary school governor – and even a member of pressure group Borrowash Against Gravel.

    A funeral will take place at the Methodist Church in Borrowash next Monday at 12pm, followed by the burial at Ockbrook and Borrowash Cemetery.

    Mid Derbyshire Labour branch secretary and former MP Helen Clark said she knew the former Rolls-Royce worker well through their Labour membership.

    She said: “He was very much a local man. He had very strong links to the village but there were lots of people who had nothing to do with politics who would say that they knew him and say something favourable. “

    Mrs Clark gave credit to Mr Highton for his suggestion to create a historical project which was later funded by a grant. She said: “Eric suggested the Unexamined Lives project and that turned into a £34,000 project funded by the lottery.

    “Had Eric not suggested it to me then I wouldn’t have done it.”One of Mr Highton’s preoccupations was that Ockbrook received a lot of attention unlike his home of Borrowash, Mrs Clark said.

    She added: “He was one of the few from Borrowash who managed to get elected to Erewash Borough Council and I think it’s fair to say that Erewash is not overly Labour – which goes to show how popular he was.”

    Eric was first elected to the body that set up Erewash Borough in 1973, representing the Ockbrook and Borrowash Ward, and was a founding member of Erewash Borough Council in 1974.

    He was elected to the Ockbrook and Borrowash ward several times and represented the Stanley ward from 1995 to 1999.

    Ockbrook ·Parish Council chairman Mike Wallis said he had only met Mr Highton on two brief occasions but he wished to pay his respects to his services to the council.

    He said: “We talked a couple of times on various issues about allotments. They weren’t particularly long meetings so I didn’t get a chance to talk very much.

    “We have a parish council meeting coming up and, as a matter of respect to him, we will be holding a moment’s silence to thank him for all the work he has done.”

    This obituary also appears on the Derby Telegraph website – click here.

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  • WW1 ‘Soldiers’ Pennies’ For Margaret And Edwin Hassé To Have Final Resting Place At Erewash Museum

    In 2014, much of the work undertaken by the Borrowash Heritage Lottery-funded ‘Unexamined Lives’ project centred upon the War Memorial in the village. Our researchers Keith Oseman and Peter Ball uncovered the histories behind the names on the Memorial and Keith created a ‘Virtual’ First World War Memorial for our site. One person who stood out because she was the only woman to be commemorated on the village Memorial was Margaret Helen Hassé. In the 1911 Census, Margaret (born in 1887) is recorded as living in the Fulneck Moravian settlement near Leeds and working as a music teacher. Margaret’s brother, Edwin who was killed in action on July 12th 1916 is also listed on the Memorial.

    Margaret’s war was spent nursing in the Voluntary Aid Detachment at Netley, Southampton after training at Ockbrook. She may have nursed the poet Wilfred Owen during his time there. She survived the war, only to succumb to the Spanish ‘flu on 16th October 1918. Margaret Hassé was 31 years old at the time of her death and her name also appears on the Women’s National War Memorial at York Minster.

    In April 2016, Peter Ball was contacted by Lorne Hammond, Curator of Human History at the Royal Alberta Museum in Victoria, Canada. The Museum had come into possession of the Memorial Plaque, commonly known as the “Soldier’s Penny” or “Death Penny”, for Margaret and that of her brother, Edwin Ridgeway Hassé. As Lorne explains, this was an unexpected but very lucky find for the ‘Unexamined Lives’ project:

    ‘We have come into possession of the Soldier’s ‘penny’ for Margaret and that of her brother, Edwin Ridgeway Hasse.

    We were considering transfer of the brother’s penny to the Royal Alberta Museum as he served in a unit from Edmonton until his death. Thanks to a skilled staffer, Paul Ferguson, we found your website. My question is this. What is the nearest appropriate local museum to Borrowash and would they be interested in Margaret’s award which I suspect came from the surviving brother, Frank, perhaps, but that is just a guess. Please have that institution contact me directly by email. This is a bit of a dilemma as we don’t want to split the pair up either. Lastly, it appears Margaret is not registered with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and I would like to remedy that.’

    We felt that Erewash Museum, scheduled to host the ‘Unexamined Lives’ exhibition later this year would be a fitting home for the pennies and Helen Martinez, Museum Service Manager at Erewash agreed. It is hoped that they will be there by the time of our exhibition in October/November.

    Soldiers’ Pennies are actually plaques or medallions issued after the First World War to the next of kin of all British and Empire service personnel who lost their lives as a direct consequence of it. Made of bronze, they resembled pennies in the coinage of that time, although approximately five inches in diameter,  and were designed by the sculptor Edward Carter Preston who has depicted an image of Britannia standing on a lion and holding a trident in her hand. In her left hand, she holds an oak wreath above a tablet bearing the name of the person commemorated. 1,355,000 plagues were issued in total and continued to be issued into the 1930s. Six hundred plaques were issued to commemorate women, making Margaret one of a very rare and select number. The inscription reads: ‘She died for freedom and honour.

    Margaret Helen Hasse’s Memorial Plaque

    Helen Clark, Director of ‘Unexamined Lives’ said:

    ‘This is a very exciting discovery. Margaret Hasse’s story is fascinating in that it brings in elements of the Home Front, Women at War, VAD nursing and the Influenza epidemic. Margaret is buried in Ockbrook churchyard and we will be seeking to have her name entered on the CWGC database. If anybody has a photograph of Margaret, please let us know. She was a heroine and fully deserves recognition for her bravery and dedication.’

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