New community project set to explore Indian heritage of the Peak District

Bakewell Old House MuseumThe University of Sheffield is helping a ground breaking new project to explore the Indian heritage of the Peak District after a successful application for a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) All Our Stories grant.

The Hindu Samaj, Sheffield is one of the first groups in the UK to receive such a grant. They are leading the exciting project, entitled British Raj in the Peak District: Discovering, recovering and sharing colonial history, following the grant of £8,600.

The money will enable the project team to learn about how life in and around Sheffield and the Peak District National Park was influenced by ideas and raw material from British India during the 18th and 19th centuries.

The University of Sheffield’s Researching Community Heritage project helped Sheffield Hindu Samaj to apply for All Our Stories, a brand new small grant programme, launched earlier this year in support of BBC Two’s The Great British Story. All Our Stories was designed as an opportunity for everyone to get involved in their heritage.

The popular series presented by historian Michael Wood and supported by a programme of BBC Learning activities and events got thousands of us asking questions about our history and inspired us to look at our history in a different way through the eyes of ordinary people.

The Hindu Samaj in Sheffield promotes Hindu faith, culture, arts, and languages amongst the members of the Hindu Community and other interested parties in Sheffield and neighbouring towns, advancing education and raising awareness about different racial groups to promote good relations between persons of different racial groups.

This project will help the public to understand what ideas were transmitted from Hindu and Indian culture through the correspondence between Edward Carpenter, a renowned socialist writer and Mahatma Gandhi and Annie Besant from India. It will explore Indian heritage during the industrial revolution by understanding the connection between the cotton industry in the Peak District and cotton producers in India.

Through trips to heritage locations like the Old House in Bakewell and Cromford Mills near Matlock and Millthorpe, the project is set to promote better understanding of the Peak District National Park, while enabling the community to learn and uncover its heritage.

TV presenter and historian Michael Wood said: “We British love our history, and no wonder: few nations in the world, if any, have such riches on their doorstep, and so much of it accessible to all of us. It is really tremendous that the people of Sheffield have been inspired to get involved to tell their own story and to dig deeper into their own past. It’s brilliant that so many people are being given the chance to get involved through the All Our Stories grants.

“Having travelled the length and breadth of the British Isles this last year filming The Great British Story, I am certain that fascinating and moving stories will be uncovered which will not only bring to life the excitement of local history, but will illuminate and enrich every community’s connection with the national narrative.”

Dr Esme Cleall, lecturer in the history of the British Empire at the University of Sheffield, is working with Hindu Samaj to research the project. Dr Cleall said: “This is an important and exciting project. The connections between Britain and India, so formative in both British and Indian history, need far more investigation at a local level. This project will help to uncover these stories and to explore them with the diverse communities of Sheffield.”

Commenting on the award, Dr Dinesh Naik, Vice President of the Hindu Samaj and Sheffield resident for more than 50 years, said: “We at Hindu Samaj are delighted to have this opportunity to explore the inter-relationship between the Peak District and India during the Raj.

“Many of us who have been settled here for a couple of generations have little or no idea about local connections to the country of our birth. We are looking forward to finding out more about people such as Edward Carpenter who made some of these connections.

“Understanding history will be empowering and fulfilling for the Hindu and Indian community in Sheffield and building a shared understanding with the wider community on this subject will be a great learning and sharing experience, promoting community cohesion and wellbeing.”

Fiona Spiers, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “Clearly the success of All Our Stories has reinforced the fact that we are indeed a nation of story tellers and that we want to explore and dig deeper into our past and discover more about what really matters to us. This is exactly what the grant will do for the British Raj in the Peak District community group as they embark on a real journey of discovery.”

Additional information

The University of Sheffield
With nearly 25,000 students from 125 countries, the University of Sheffield is one of the UK´s leading and largest universities. A member of the Russell Group, it has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

The University of Sheffield has been named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen´s Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, 2007). These prestigious awards recognise outstanding contributions by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom´s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield also boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and many of its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence around the world.

The University´s research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, ICI, Slazenger, and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

The University has well-established partnerships with a number of universities and major corporations, both in the UK and abroad. Its partnership with Leeds and York Universities in the White Rose Consortium has a combined research power greater than that of either Oxford or Cambridge.

About The Hindu Samaj, Sheffield and District
Promoting Hindu faith, culture, arts, and languages amongst the members of the Hindu Community and other interested parties in Sheffield and neighbouring towns, advancing education and raising awareness about different racial groups to promote good relations between persons of different racial groups, maintaining temple premises, bringing together organisations in a common effort to advance education, preserve and protect health and provide facilities for recreation and leisure time occupation with the object of improving the conditions of life for the Hindu community and other interested parties. Our group manages a community centre in Burngreave which offers local people access to a range of services and activities including free yoga and classical dance classes. We also host Senior citizens' Lunch club, career advice to University students and celebrations of ethnic Indian festivals. Local Church Groups like Shiregreen & Under bank Chapel and others such as BME, Ashram, BWSG and Sheffield University students are amongst those who join us in our celebrations. The Hindu Samaj is run by volunteers. We are mostly self-funded and get grants from time to time for special events. The organisation is run by the executive committee and overseen by the Trustees.

All Our Stories
All Our Stories is a new, simple, funding programme for 2012 with grants available ranging from £3,000 - £10,000 developed so everyone can get involved in their heritage. From researching local historic landmarks, learning more about customs and traditions to delving into archives and finding out the origins of street and place names All Our Stories will give everyone the chance to explore their heritage and share what they learn with others. This programme is now closed to new applications and decisions were made in October 2012. Researching Community Heritage Researching Community Heritage is an AHRC funded project which connects researchers at the University of Sheffield with community groups doing heritage projects. Researchers from across the Faculty of Arts and Humanities have been working with groups to develop their ideas. The community groups provide the ideas, inspiration and leadership for the projects. The researchers will share their expertise, offer training in new skills, and provide practical things like access to archives and specialist equipment.

Heritage Lottery Fund
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported 33,000 projects, allocating £4.9billion across the UK. Website:

BBC Learning
BBC Learning plays a central part in meeting the BBC's purpose of promoting education and learning. Utilising the power of the BBC's big brands and key talent, the department puts learning right at the heart of the BBC and provides a variety of resources and learning opportunities for children, teachers, parents and adult learners. Working with partners and in local communities, BBC Learning aims to stimulate interests and encourage engagement through a variety of campaigns across all BBC genres and platforms.

For further information, images and interviews, please contact Dr. Chamu Kuppuswamy at The Hindu Samaj, Sheffield on 07868780356 or


For further information please contact:
Amy Stone
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 222 1046