Welcoming students for the new Cold War, Space Race and Jodrell Bank study day

Posted 30 Jan, 2023

It is well-known that Jodrell Bank was involved in the Space Race in the 1960s, tracking American and Soviet space probes and collaborating with the superpowers simultaneously. But why did this come about? Were the motivations simply scientific or was there more to it?  

These are questions that 50 GCSE and A-level History students explored at the first of our revamped Cold War, Space Race and Jodrell Bank study days.  

The day is a collaboration with our colleagues from the University’s Widening Participation department and Faculty of Humanities, and is designed to give a taster of what it’s like to study History at university level.  

To start the day, students gathered in the Space Dome to hear mini lectures from Dr Tom Tunstall Allcock from the History department and Dr Rachel Platanov from Russian Studies, on the American and Soviet perspectives on the Space Race.  

After lunch they took part in a primary sources enquiry workshop, analysing images, documents and film material from the Jodrell Bank archive, to discover the motivations behind Jodrell’s involvement in the Space Race.  

This topic has not been extensively researched, so students had the opportunity to find genuinely new historic interpretations. And there were some fascinating findings; Jodrell Bank’s seemingly official relationship with the Americans versus a more informal relationship with the Soviets; the ways that Lovell skilfully navigated the British public’s anti-Russian feelings; and, how he capitalised on ‘space race fever’ to the benefit of Jodrell Bank. 

This is the first time we’ve been able to run the study day since the pandemic and opening our First Light Pavilion. It was wonderful to use the Space Dome and the exhibition as part of the day, treating students to the unique experience of a lecture in our immersive theatre space. And thanks to the extensive archival research we have done over the past three years, we now have some rare and unique primary sources to use in the workshop.         

Immediate feedback suggests it was a fun, inspiring and challenging day! We will be running these sessions on site again next year, meanwhile we’ll be creating some downloadable resources based on the session, so teachers and students can explore this fascinating piece of history in the classroom.  

“So good to be back @jodrellbank for our Cold War Workshop with Dr Tunstall Allcock @UoMhistdept and Dr Platonov @UoMLanguages, exploring the Space Race & the role Jodrell Bank played. Great source analysis by students from @StJohnRigby & @HydeHighSchool 👩‍🎓🧑‍🎓👏”

#SALCSchools https://t.co/9x3p0M9vW8″ / Twitter

More from Jodrell Bank

How curious...


Visions of the Night Sky: New Exhibition at Jodrell Bank

From distant galaxies and nebulae to our very own corner of Cheshire, this exhibition will take you on a journey through space in stunning detail - all included in the price of entry!


Projections 2023: The Compass at Jodrell Bank

This Winter Solstice Season, no visit to Jodrell Bank is complete without a viewing of The Compass, an inspiring and breathtaking new film from Illuminos.


A Round of Applause for the Jodrell Bank Team!

It's been a great year for Jodrell Bank, and we're thrilled to announce that Jodrell Bank have been shortlisted for Team of the Year by Marketing Cheshire!


Jodrell Bank – Going Up A Gear!

The Tour of Britain has captured the imagination of millions across the country, waiting eagerly by the route or tuning in to catch a glimpse of some of the world’s most talented sports people. Setting off (at breakneck speed) just down the road in Altrincham earlier this month, the race’s popularity mirrors the recent rise in cycling for health, leisure and commuting...


Set your sights on the skies this October Half Term!

All you need is curiosity (and perhaps a sturdy pair of shoes!) to have a great time at Jodrell Bank, open 10 til 5 every day this half term! With a fantastic programme of events, Jodrell Bank is the perfect place for family-friendly fun this autumn. For a truly unforgettable evening come along to our first Astro Night - Kids! session on 21st October...


A New Voyage! Work Experience at Jodrell Bank

Ever thought about exploring the realms of the universe, or how it might feel to be immersed in the wonders of astrophysics? A week of Work Experience might be your gateway to such adventures, and Jodrell Bank offers just that opportunity!