Day 4 of the project and we are well into the swing of it. Group 1 has been focussed on formalising the historical narrative the project uses. This includes looking at how COVID-19 spreads and linking this to both material changes and our Padlet timeline. Groups 2 and 3 are recording the objects and buildings which have changed or been introduced due to the Pandemic.
Today that included looking at the short-lived life cycles of some of our examples. In March, the Government appealed for help with 10,000 ventilators. Dyson replied, designing, engineering, and producing ventilators across 4 weeks at a cost of £20million. But these were never needed. Now Dyson have shifted to how they may be able to produce ventilators for international markets. The objects themselves were designed and prototypes made but they were never used. This narrative may change our perception of their importance.
Similarly, many of the makeshift hospitals worked under capacity or were built for a demand that never materialised. NHS Nightingale London and ‘Dragon’s Heart’ Hospital Cardiff were open for less than a month. Exeter and Bristol Nightingale hospitals were unused. Of all the makeshift hospitals recorded so far only the NHS Nightingale Manchester still has patients. All others are on standby in case of further surges in the pandemic.
We therefore face questions about how we record these objects and buildings, and their value in heritage. These are key buildings, objects and moments in the historical narrative but so far have had small lifespans within the pandemic. Unless there is a significant second wave, they will play smaller parts than expected in the pandemic response. How important are these hospitals which did not fulfil capacity? Is the fact that they were built important enough to warrant documentation and preservation? The much longer biographical histories of centres such as the Excel Centre London, the NEC Birmingham and Manchester Central Convention Centre must also be considered.
Second Year Archaeology and Anthropology Students