North Yorkshire Libraries: Scarborough’s children save lost time travellers!

Most people believe that wardrobes are very ordinary objects… but wardrobes can be things of magic and adventure, as the children of Scarborough have been discovering this summer.

By Louise Roberts
Monday, 12th July 2021, 11:50 am

Years 3 and 4 pupils at Gladstone Road Primary, St George’s RC Primary and St Peter’s RC Primary have been on an exciting adventure where they have helped and met local heroes from Scarborough’s past.

It all started when pupils received an intriguing invitation to Scarborough Art Gallery from the Professor.

Once at the Art Gallery, they unearthed clues which led them to the Sitwell Library, which the Professor had transformed into her office.

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Children and the Professor watch with delight as Time Traveller arrives

The Professor explained that wardrobes are portals between points in time and throughout history people have travelled between them.

Over the centuries, a secret organisation called WOOF (Wardrobes Of Our Friends) has worked to meet lost time travellers and look after them when they emerge from wardrobes into the present day. The Professor recruited classes as the next generation of WOOF agents!

Back at school, classes were contacted by lost time travellers, heroes from Scarborough’s history – writer Edith Sitwell, archaeologist Alice Lieder and medieval occupants of Scarborough Castle.

Pupils needed to make a plan to help them arrive safely in 2021.

The Time Traveller, Peter Plow from Scarborough Castle in the 1200s, learns about 21st century life through library books the children have chosen

The children learned that stories would help to attract the lost time traveller, so they got to work creating their own stories.

Scarborough Library seemed the obvious location for the time traveller to arrive, so each class arranged to perform their story at the library, in hope that the time traveller’s ‘time wardrobe’ would arrive safely.

An exciting finale took place when, once the children had performed their stories, a seemingly normal wardrobe in the Children’s Library started to make strange noises, shelves fell down and each of the lost time travellers appeared.

Classes presented their time traveller with a guidebook to modern-day Scarborough and sent them off to meet their modern-day descendants.

Children discuss with the Professor what facts about modern life they will share with the Time Traveller when they arrive

“We were delighted to take part in this exciting project and to welcome local school children to Scarborough’s fantastic library,” said Cllr Greg White, Executive Member for Libraries. “It just goes to prove that libraries really are magical spaces.”

Sophie Drury-Bradey, Co-Director ARCADE, said: “ARCADE, KIT Theatre and organisations from Scarborough's cultural sector have worked together for some time to make this project possible.

“We know that the last year has been very challenging for schools and that children and teachers have had their lives seriously disrupted by lockdown – so it’s been a real joy to see hundreds of children experience the magic of Wardrobes at this time.

"ARCADE hopes this strengthens cross-sector collaboration in our borough and that together we can continue to create more creative opportunities and experiences for our children and young people.”

A Schoolgirl finds a secret message from the Professor in the fire place at the Art Gallery (Picture: Stewart Baxter)

Anna Myers, Senior Producer at KIT Theatre, said: “We’ve had such a brilliant time creating an adventure for Scarborough schools. We hope the children have had magical and memorable moments at the museum, library and in their classrooms. Teachers and staff at all the venues have been so supportive in helping make everything happen.”

Christine Rostron, Learning Manager at Scarborough Museums Trust, said: “It has been so much fun to work with local schools and creative practitioners to bring Scarborough’s amazing local history to life.

"After many long and hard months of children not being able to engage with immersive cultural and educational experiences, it has been such a joy to see this wonderful project ignite their imaginations and curiosity.”

Andrea Jones, class teacher at St George’s RC School, said: “This has been a wonderful opportunity for our year 3/4 children at St George’s. The children have been fully engaged and excited by their adventures with the project and have consequently produced some high-quality written work.”

Mrs Brooksbank, Year 3 teacher at St Peter's RC School, said: “The children became immersed in the mystery and intrigue of the adventure from the beginning.

"Their imaginations and inquisitive nature were ignited! They looked forward to the correspondence with the time traveller, with the hope they would finally meet her.

The Professor explains she needs the children's help to save time travellers arriving in Scarborough (Picture: Stewart Baxter)

"They enjoyed working together to create a story which they performed at the library. For the grand finale, the children got to meet Alice Leider, the time traveller from 1853!”

Fiona Richards, of Gladstone Road Primary School, said: “Our children literally jump out of their seats when the wardrobe light flashes!

"They love receiving the time traveller’s emails and have thoroughly enjoyed creating a ‘Time Traveller's guide to Scarborough’ over the last couple of weeks. It's been the perfect incentive to encourage their very best handwriting!

“As a teacher, my favourite aspect of this project has been creating the amazing stories with Sarah the Storysmith.

"The children have let their imaginations run wild, and I feel that I've learned a new, exciting way to teach story writing in the future. The whole project has been an incredible experience.”

WOOF works closely on the Wardrobes project with immersive theatre company KIT Theatre, community producers ARCADE, Scarborough Museums Trust and North Yorkshire Library Services and is supported by Arts Council England, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough Children’s University, Inspire Fund & National Literacy Trust.

Children meet the Professor for the first time at her HQ in the Sitwell Library at Woodend Creative (Picture: Stewart Baxter)