Introduction: forming a heritage and arts startup in 2016
jjheritage.com was formed by Professor Jean Williams and Joanna Compton in Autumn 2016 responding to the growing global creation of dedicated museums and archival collections related to sport and the arts particularly. Jean, who had previously worked in fashion-buying, and as a teacher of English, Drama and Theatre Studies, had recently taken a voluntary severance departure after almost twenty years in a specialist sports history research centre, and used part of the funds to establish the company. Joanna, who has a legal, project management and fundraising background joined with her expertise to provide the regulatory framework for a variety of projects. Since October 2016, jjheritage has amplified both the range of its work in public history, and world-leading connections with sports governing bodies.
So the first year was very much about establishing company core values and practices, and working on the website with our colleagues Pink Frog Media. As a female owned and led startup, we identified where our core business might lie and contacted as many of our current network as possible to let them know that the new company was registered and open for business. Jean had run several businesses alongside her academic career over the years, from hospitality and event management to catering, having also taught these subjects in colleges. The interest in heritage also had a much longer background, when Jean worked with Prof Jeff Hill and Dr Kevin Moore on a sport and heritage AHRC funded project Sport, History and Heritage – a study in the public representation of sport (2006-08). Jean published a chapter on the public representation motor sport, particularly the Indianapolis 500 in the United States in 2012. So what has happened since?
Hitting the Ground Running: The First World Football Culture Summit, China 2016, to an AHRC PhD studentship 2017
In October 2016 Williams was invited as a guest of the National Football Museum to talk about her ongoing research at The First World Football Culture Summit, Zibo National Football Museum China. Dr Kevin Moore, Director of the National Football Museum had already hosted President Xi Jinping and then British Prime Minister, David Cameron at the museum and this visit to China was part of the return cultural diplomacy between the two countries related to football. You can see the video of Jean’s reception in Zibo here. We spent a week in China and it really felt like a great way to launch the new business. The National Football Museum houses the FIFA-Langton collection, the largest of its kind in the world. Williams has consulted with the National Football Museum since it was first established in 2001, as an expert helpjng with the annual Hall of Fame nominations, and with the Walk of Fame. Jean had also co-curated a £30,000 funded exhibition A History of the World Cup in 24 Objects in 2014 with Dr David Goldblatt, and has advised on a number of other funding bids including work on 1966 and purchasing the Chris Unger Collection.
As a non Executive Director of The Silverstone Experience, a new heritage visitor attraction at Silverstone Circuit, 2016/7 was a key year in moving from Stage 1 to stage 2 Heritage Lottery Fund project management and with a very busy set of meetings, the new facility will open in Autumn 2019. Jean had spent a lot of time researching the archvial collections of the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) at Silverstone and had supervised a Master’s level student who went on to work in the collections so it was very rewarding to see academic work lead to postgraduate level employment in the sporting heritage sector as it grows. Other students have also volunteered their time at Silverstone, so that was also satisfying. Williams has been privileged to recorded oral histories to produce exhibition content for The Silverstone Experience, including Lady Christabel Watson, and Liz Zettle.
More pleasing still, Jean obtained an AHRC PhD studentship with The Hockey Museum Woking, through the The National Football Museum consortium. These studentships, worth £70, 000 are designed to give the students both PhD level expertise and six months of experience working with a museum, and archive to improve their employment prospects. Building on Jean’s expertise in oral history, the project will interview and archive oral histories of female hockey internationals from 1945 onwards.
Expanding Our Portfolio of Clients 2017/9
As Academic Lead to the Hidden Histories of Women’s Football Project (September 2017-8), Williams convened the largest international conference solely dedicated to women’s football to date. Held on 8/9 March 2018 in the National Football Museum’s main gallery, to mark International Women’s Day, almost 100 people were in attendance and, wider public recognition of women’s football included a civic reception at the Lord Mayor of Manchester’s chambers. This was amplified when Jean and the National Football Museum held the first and largest reunion of England women players 1949-1993 on 30 September 2018 for National Sporting Heritage Day. More, and larger, reunions are planned for Autumn 2019. This was supplemented by media work, and producing two journal special editions from the conference with papers published by museum professionals as well as academics.
Jean also volunteered on the steering committee of the Notts County FC football in the Community Heritage scoping study, and liaised with Notts County Cricket Club on their collections.
Most notably, clients in 2018/9 included the FIFA World Football Museum; the Football Association at both St George’s Park and Wembley Stadium. FIFA (formed in 1904) acknowledged the history of women’s football before their involvement in 1969, was important to establishing the first women’s world cup in 1991. Williams co-authored, with FIFA World Museum of Football staff, and journalists, The Women’s World Cup (2019), two copies of which were circulated to all 211 FIFA member national associations at a conference to mark the eighth Women’s World Cup in Paris, June 2019. The first 60 pages of a 300 page volume explain why the first Women’s World Cup was held in 1991 (compared with 1930 for the men’s inaugural tournament), and what went before. Williams had unprecedented access to the FIFA archive in Zurich in Autumn 2018, to augment her existing research for the book.
In 2018/9 the FA asked Williams to curate and present an exhibition on the history of England at St George’s Park. Williams presented to head coaches Gareth Southgate, Phil Neville and 40 technical staff on 14 September 2018. Subsequently Williams has also consulted on permanent heritage-based installations across the FA sites, including the England caps wall.
What next in Autumn 2019 to celebrate our third birthday as a company?
Jean will provide heritage scoping for British Judo this Autumn, following links with the University of Wolverhampton and with a view to the forthcoming Commonwealth Games.
Public Library work continues with the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Jean provides advice on sporting obituaries for each year as well as writing entries on Lady Arran, 2016; Dame Mary Glen Haig 2017; Eileen Gray and Rosalind Rowe 2018. More Olympians will follow in 2020.
With The Silverstone Experience opening this Autumn, and Jean speaking in Paris on 8 November on the history of sports clothing, there are a range of projects to keep jjheritage.com busy. Look out for new announcements on our website. In particular, more work on the history of football in England will follow this autumn, and our Olympic work will amplify ahead of Tokyo 2020.
Other links you may find useful
Media work since 2016 has included:
1. BBC Radio 4 Late Night Women’s Hour with Lauren Laverne on The History of Women’s Sport broadcast 26 August 2016
2. Sky Arts in consultation with the British Library My British Library Series, filmed with Benjamin Zephaniah for his programme on Rebels and his support of Aston Villa, broadcast on Sky Arts 15 November 2016.
3. Channel 4 and Clare Balding When Football Banned Women documentary film first broadcast July 2017.
4. Bill Wilson The story of women's football in 10 objects BBC Business News 6 March 2018
5. Icons BBC2 January 2019-Williams co-shortlisted the 4 sports candidates (Pele, Billie Jean King, Muhammed Ali and Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson) for the Sport programme on a 7 person panel led by Kelly Cates and Colin Jackson. Ali won by public vote and went to the final, where the public voted for the most important person of the twentieth century, in February 2019, broadcast live on BBC 2
6. Bill Wilson’ Mexico 1971: When women's football hit the big time’ BBC Business
7. Ultimate Football Fan TV Women in Football: No Easy Game 26 April 2019
8. Central TV News ‘Women’s Football History’ 2 and 3 April 2019 Jane Hesketh.
9. Grant Wahl ‘How the Women's World Cup and USWNT Were Built From Scratch’ Sports Illustrated podcast 06 June 2019
10. Outside Right podcast 20 May 2019
11. Greg Jenner ‘History of Football’ You’re Dead to Me 13 September 2019.
Posts written by Jean or Joanna.