Kingston Heritage Service launches Our 100 Histories to improve representation

Kingston Heritage Service (KHS) has launched a new project, Our 100 Histories, aimed at improving representation in its collections and helping all Kingston residents feel represented in the borough’s history. 

Robin Moran, development and promotions officer for KHS, said the project came about after the department found gaps in its collections at Kingston Museum and Kingston History Centre. 

“These [gaps] are including things like hidden and LGBTQ+ histories… where we don’t think that our collections are reflective of the histories in the borough,” Moran said.

“We wanted to do a project that would empower residents to highlight those histories, especially modern histories that people may be less aware of and other cultural aspects of the borough that you may not think of as heritage on a day-to-day basis.”

As part of the project, residents can add pins onto a digital map of Kingston, mapping out pieces of heritage that are important, personally or generally or both.  

Pins can be added on KHS’ website, on Historypin or by contacting KHS at local.history@kingston.gov.uk.  

Over the course of the project, residents will be able to view and favourite the pins they believe to be most integral to Kingston’s heritage.

At the project’s close in March 2022, the pins with the most favourites will be used to tailor the events, tours and collections organised by KHS.

Moran said the core aim of the project is to build a picture of Kingston that truly reflects the borough’s diversity.  

“A big feature of this is about celebrating what makes the borough unique, and the different types of people we have living here and how that separates us and makes us different from other boroughs in London,” she said.

Councillor Rebekah Moll, in charge of culture at Kingston Council, said: “We hope that ‘Our 100 Histories’ will help all residents feel represented and excited about the borough’s diverse heritage.” 

Chief executive of Kingston Race and Equalities Council John Azah pointed to one of the borough’s icons of diversity. 

“Obviously Cesar Picton should be represented,” he said.

New Malden resident Ben Lee, who works in public policy and local communities, pinned the story of Kim Joo Il who fled North Korea in 2007 and set up Free NK – a dissident newspaper in New Malden.

Seoyoung Kim, a curator at Kingston Museum, pinned the Korean Supermarkets that line the streets of New Malden.

“New Malden has been home to the largest Korean community in the UK and Europe since the 1980s,” the pin’s description reads.

“This unique presence of the Korean community and many associated activities, such as Korean Food Festival, are important contemporary heritages of our borough.”

Leader of Kingston Council Caroline Kerr said of the project that “Kingston is awash with history” and KHS hopes that people will recognise this.

“We want people to think about heritage in all forms of the word,” Moran said. “It doesn’t just have to be a place or an old building, it can be a story that you remember as a child about something in the borough.

“It’s easy to forget yourselves as people in creating history when actually what we are doing every day is going to be important and interesting to people in the future.”

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