FOR IMMEDIATE USE                                                                           29 October 2015

Bring Our LGBT History to Life

Appeal for Information for LGBT History in Cumbria

Cumbria’s first lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans* (LGBT) history project, CELEBRATE, is appealing to the people of Cumbria for information of significant organisations and events in the local LGBT History.

The partnership project between OutREACH Cumbria and Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery will put on an exhibition and create new collections of oral histories, objects and images related to the history of Cumbria LGBT community.

A number of organisations and groups have been discovered during the early part of the research phase of the project, along with records and accounts of events and incidents in our LGBT history. The full list can be found on CELEBRATE website:

Tonia Lu, the CELEBRATE Project Coordinator, said: “Our research has revealed a great deal of information with help from libraries and archives across Cumbria and beyond. And now we hope to hear from people who might have direct or indirect links to those people, groups and incidents, who might want to share their stories, so we can bring our LGBT history to life.”

One of the archives housing the most significant collection of lesbian and gay rights documents is the Hall-Carpenter Archive in London.

“We were amazed to find not only that Cumbria had organised gay men and lesbians’ social groups as early as in the 1970s, we actually had four of them: Cumbria & the Borders; Carlisle; Barrow and South Cumbria. All of them were part of Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) – a nation-wide lesbian and gay network. 

“HCA has an amazing collection of beautifully designed newsletters produced by the Cumbria & the Borders group, dated from 1973 to early 1990s. The newsletters talked about the hot topics at the time and showed an abundance of activities, such as hiking, wine making, weekends in Morecambe, dinners, monthly meetings in the Old Town Hall in Carlisle etc..

“We are eager to find people who might still have those newsletters and to add them to our collection and exhibition.”

In addition to those groups, there were also incidents of gay men being charged for indecency before the 1967 Sexual Offence Act legalised homosexual act between men. There were 12 men in Kendal charged in 1959 – many of them were respectable members of the society. The local newspapers published all their names and addresses, and they did the same for a similar case in Carlisle in 1966 involving 7 men.

Tonia says: “It’s not hard to imagine that those charges have changed the lives of those men and their family, and reportedly many of them lost their jobs and pensions. We would like to know how exactly this have affected those people and those who are linked to them.”

CELEBRATE is also calling for individuals to take part in its Cumbrian LGBT oral history collection and to share their real life stories. Those stories will form part of new LGBT history collections in Cumbria Archives. More information can be found on CELEBRATE website at

Individuals and organisations interested in this project can go to for more information and to sign up or email Tonia Lu, Project Coordinator at or phone 07956 336872



Notes for Editors

List of People / Groups / Incidents:

  • Cumbria & The Borders CHE:SHRG Group – later a Gay Community Group: Founded in 1973 by Richard Webster, and later ran by Alwin Stockdale until early 1990s. Monthly meetings in the Old Town Hall, Carlisle
  • CHE Group for Cumbria South: Founded in 1976 by Mr P J W Holland
  • Gay Carlisle Group (a local CHE Group): Founded in 1977 by Jim Straker, monthly meeting used to be held at the Morton Community Centre, Carlisle
  • CHE Group for Barrow: Founded in 1979 by Mr Brian Hobson
  • Kendal Indecency Trial, 1959: 13 men were tried for indecency for their homosexuality, and was reported at length by local newspapers – which also published the names and addresses of the men involved.
  • Carlisle Indecency Trial, 1966: 7 gay men were tried in Carlisle for indecency, this was reported widely by local newspapers as well – which also published the names and addresses of the men involved.
  • Sir Hugh Walpole (13 March 1884 – 1 June 1941): Best-selling writer in the first half of 20th Century who settled in Lake District in his later life, more information here.
  • H Montgomery Hyde (14 August 1907 – 10 August 1989): Politician, writer and early campaigner for gay rights, schooled in Sedburgh before left for University.

About OutREACH Cumbria:

  • OutREACH Cumbria is the main service provider for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans* support, advice and engagement in the North Cumbria area.
  • OutREACH Cumbria runs a Free Telephone Helpline between 7pm and 9.30pm on Thursdays as well as One to One Sessions in Carlisle.
  • OutREACH Cumbria also runs G.O.B.S (Gay Older Brothers & Sisters) Mentoring Scheme for young people.
  • It has a range of different services, groups, projects and opportunities on offer.
  • For further details on OutREACH Cumbria, please visit:

About Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery:

  • Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery (Commonly known as the Tullie House) is a meeting point of the History, Nature and Art in one of Britain’s most fascinating regions.
  • The rich collections are a resource of local, regional and national importance.
  • Tullie House run our programme of activities and events for children and families, as well as our Tuesday Lunchtime Talks and Monday Alternative Film Season.
  • For further details on the Tullie House, please visit:

Further Information 

For further information contact Tonia Lu on or 07956 336872

Free-to-use images and press releases are available from the CELEBRATE website: