Our Story

Learn more about the people & background of the project

A Project of Preservation

The Old Campbellian Society, which represents the College's Alumni and has members all over the world, was the catalyst for this project. The Society began to raise funds in order to reframe the images and brought this to the attention of the College. The College then took the step to consult with PRONI in recognition that these images were important archives and hence needed to be assessed before any reframing could take place.

PRONI's expertise indicated the need to store these originals - some dating back to 1912 - in specialist temperature controlled facilities or fear losing them forever. A big decision needed to be made in order to ensure the faces of these boys and men could continue to sit within the College walls in perpetuity.

And so a partnership with PRONI was born. PRONI kindly agreed to digitise all the images, digitally restore them to their former glory and store the originals in their specialist facility with access for everyone to see. The College in turn is able to continue to display the enhanced replica images with no risk of further damage to the originals.

But this was just the start. The images are a poignant reminder of the sacrifice these boys and men made, but the College believed it was time to tell the stories of their lives, not just their deaths. Former College Historian, Keith Haines had toiled for many years to collect and collate much information about these men and this restoration provided an opportunity to build on this work, open up the College archives and share the stories with as many people as possible.

At the heart of the project is the Photograph Restoration which is being carried out by PRONI through their specialist digital unit. The images have all been dated and a narrative on each is being compiled which will illustrate a fascinating insight into different photography techniques in the early 20th Century.

This initiative will open up our archive, utilising it as a tool for learning for the wider community. It will bring these individual histories to life for every generation in East Belfast, discovering untold stories and keeping these stories alive for future generations.

Robert Robinson, Headmaster at Campbell College Belfast

Sharing and Building Stories

The engagement element of the project is centred around the following elements which all aim to share the existing stories and build new ones.

  • Primary Schools Creative Workshops. Telling the story of one Old Campbellian, Robert McConnell, through a short drama piece which uses his letters home as a way of bringing his story to life.
  • A Digital Resource Pack for Year 10 History will be created and made available to all schools.
  • A Level Internships are open to all schools - only 12 places available and the successful pupils will work with our creative engagement manager to coordinate a Poetry Slam event for the Eastside Arts Festival in August 2018.
  • Creative exchange initiative with German Schools working with German language pupils.
  • Partnerships with historic associations.
  • Public access to all research via the website.
  • A travelling exhibition which will visit all corners of Ireland.
The People Behind the Project

Meet the Team

Cathy Law

Project Manager (Development Director, Campbell College Belfast)

Cathy Law, Development Director Campbell College Belfast

Dr Tom Thorpe

Archivist

Dr Tom Thorpe, Archivist

Dr Heather Montgomery

Archivist

Dr Heather Montgomery, Archivist

Nerve Centre

Digital Team

Nerve Centre, Digital Team

ASG & Partners

Digital Team

ASG & Partners, Digital Team

Output Digital

Web Development

Output Digital, Web Development
The Project's Progression

Our Journey

2015

Old Campbellians start the ball rolling

2016

April

Cathy Law meets with PRONI to ascertain the state of the images and look at options

April - November

Building the wider proposal

November

A full proposal is submitted for funding support to HLF

2017

May

HLF announce funding support

June

Dr Thorpe and Dr Montgomery are appointed

July/August

The images are taken down in Central Hall and replaced with temporary replicas

August

Work begins in earnest at PRONI on all the images

August

Website, creative engagement and digital team in place

September

European Heritage Open Day sees the first official Men Behind the Glass Tour hosted by East Belfast Historian Jason Burke

October

A presentation to local School Principals at Campbell College

November

PRONI hold their first teach workshop on digital restoration

June - December

Dr Thorpe and Dr Montgomery dig deep into the archives to build the research

2018

January

Primary Schools Creative Engagement delivered in partner schools