20sStreets competition: winners chosen from ‘impressive’ field

An illustrated picture of a street, with pink detail

We are delighted to have chosen the winners of our 20sStreets competition, which attracted more than 150 entries covering a huge array of fascinating topics.

Launched last year in partnership with the British Association for Local History, the competition invited entrants to research and share stories connected with the 1920s, focusing on any community within an area covered by the 1921 Census of England and Wales.

The winning submissions explored subjects as diverse as women’s football and its popularity in the 1920s; the impact of the 1926 general strike on a mining community in County Durham, and the lives and careers of three young women who worked together in a Watford department store.

One top-rated entry featured the extraordinary life of Khalid Sheldrake, a South London pickle manufacturer who accepted an invitation to become king – briefly – of the short-lived Islamic Republic of East Turkestan.

The competition was divided into group and individual categories, with six winning entries overall.

First prize among the groups went to the members of a school history club in Lancashire, who wowed the judges with their enthralling study of the households that made up a street near their school at the time of the 1921 Census.

The judging panel included historian and author Melanie Backe-Hansen, research consultant for BBC2 series A House Through Time.

Melanie said: “The overall standard was extremely impressive and the range of subjects was fascinating. We had some tough decisions to make!

“We were guided throughout by the criteria set out by The National Archives and the British Association for Local History.

Our winners chose engaging subjects with links to the 1920s, told their stories clearly and skilfully and demonstrated that they had used a range of sources.”

Paul Dryburgh, chair of the British Association for Local History, said: “The response to the 20sStreets competition from entrants of all ages and all parts of the UK shows the power of local history to capture our imagination and the extraordinary range of stories just waiting to be discovered.”

“We hope the stories unearthed by our winners will inspire others to explore past events and people in their own communities, using some of the many resources available in archives and elsewhere.”

Winners – Individual category

Simon Carpenter – The Three Choirs Festival makes its BBC debut

Helen George – Watford in the 1920s – Three Ladies of Trewins Department Store

Alexander Jackson – Fleetwood Ladies

Sharon O’Connor – Khalid Sheldrake: The East Dulwich man who would be King

Catherine Todd – Surviving the 1926 General Strike in a mining community

Winner – Group category

Oakhill History Club, Oakhill School – Connecting the Threads of Life

Runners-up – Individual category

Elizabeth Burling – Are these photos from my Grandma’s 1921 holiday?

Anne Corry – Plymstock: The End of a Village

Caroline from Rasen – Memories of Market Rasen Cinema in 1923

Keith Gregson – The spacious ground was crowded – 9 June 1923

Peter Hamersley – Old Church Road

Jim Horton – No Census Record for Evelyn

Steven Illingworth – The Battle for Salford’s Unofficial Markets: The plight of former soldiers in the 1920s

Laura Lee – Change through a Child’s Eyes

Amelia Spanton – Grand Old Lady of Thorne – Emily Wilson, Thorne’s pioneering councillor

Elizabeth Walne – Well, well, well: the story of a Suffolk heroine

Runners-up – Group category

The Ladies’ College, Guernsey – Guernsey’s Forgotten ‘Lady Doctor’

Ditchling History Project – The Stone Carver’s Story

The Brickworks Museum – Running away to join the Brickworks


We will be sharing their stories on our website in the coming weeks and months – watch this space!