South Gloucestershire in the First World War Project: 2014 - 2018
For the last four and a half years, project staff worked with local heritage organisations and volunteers, to find the stories which would show the people of today, how the lives of the people of South Gloucestershire were affected by the First World War, one hundred years ago.
Together with community volunteers, we discovered how everyone played their part; young men went off to war and young women became nurses, worked on the land or made munitions. Children collected blackberries and conkers and knitted socks for the servicemen. They helped, as scouts, to run messages for the local troops and grow vegetables to keep everyone fed. The local factories made boots, motorbikes and supported the war effort. People did what they could, to keep the country going, but their lives changed for ever.
- We have taken these local stories into over thirty schools across the county and created three very successful travelling exhibitions, which have been seen by thousands of people across South Gloucestershire, in the libraries, leisure centres and other venues.
- In July 2016 we ran an unusual drama, which ran in real time, through the medium of twitter, to mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.
- In partnership with Imperial War Museum we made the archive film ‘The Battle of the Somme’ available to local audiences.
- We created a range of freely downloadable learning resources and provided six local museums with legacy loans boxes full of interesting First World War replica items for school children to handle. The resources include complete lesson plans, in book form for the teachers and volunteers to use in the future.
- We created a war memorial website, where over 1530 names are recorded from the local war memorials across South Gloucestershire. Some have only the name, but most have far more detail to explore, connecting them to the places we know so well today.
- To commemorate the Centenary of the Armistice this year, the project has also facilitated and supported through the on line instruction resources and small grants, the making of thousands of clay poppies as well as other commemorative activities across South Gloucestershire.
So, from the project staff at South Gloucestershire Council, a HUGE thank you for those taking part and making this community part of the project so successful.
South Gloucestershire Museums Group members who contributed so much to the project, receiving First World War Loans Boxes and Learning Resources from Cherry Hubbard, Engagement Officer.
Here are a selection of some of the Armistice Centenary events.
Poppy Gardens in Yate and Sodbury
This involved supporting over a dozen local schools to make the poppies and working with St Mary’s Church, Yate and St John’s Church, Chipping Sodbury, to create the Poppy Gardens. Organised by Yate Town Council, Yate Parish Council, Chipping Sodbury Town Council, Doddington Parish Council, Rotary Club and the Royal British Legion.
Pupils from St. Mary’s School and the Head Teacher (Mr. Jon Bird) with the poppies they made.
Several fantastic workshop activities were supported at Aerospace Bristol and the poppies they made were displayed in the public galleries.
Along with local Beavers, Brownies and other groups, Winterbourne Guides had fun making their painted clay poppies which were then placed on the Hambrook War Memorial at Whiteshill.
Poster for the Hawkesbury Upton Village Hall by the Badminton Branch, Royal British Legion Commemorative tea and performance with silhouettes on the stage behind.
Downend and Bromley Heath in Bloom made wooden poppies in collaboration with local schools. Crowds of people watched beacons lit in Siston and Yate.
Yate and District Heritage Centre, with St Mary’s Church staged various fantastic events, an exhibition, all-day World War One History Day, a play and a vintage, variety entertainment performance.
War Memorials website at:
Many of the memorials now have QR codes located by the side of them as a quick, digital shortcut for people to access the website on the spot. The Museums and Heritage Officer, South Gloucestershire will continue to install QR codes while the Second World War Stories Project is now adding information when provided with research.
The war memorial website is now fully populated, with lists of names for each of the war memorial listings and much more, depending on the research that we have had available for each name. Sadly, sometimes no more than a name can be discovered, but for most there is some indication of who they were, where they lived and how they died for people to discover. This website will be available for the forseeable future and has been extended to take in the names of those fallen in World War Two.
The web site entries were checked by those contributing and is now closed for editing First World War entries.
The Exhibition Banners
The exhibition banners are being distributed amongst the South Gloucestershire Museums Group, where they will still be available to borrow. Yate and District Heritage Centre have Exhibition 2, Thornbury and District Museum have Exhibition 3 and the rest are distributed to the relevant museums and other organisations according to subject.
As the project comes to a close, I would like to thank all of those who have given their help and support over the four and a half years of the project to make it such a success. We have had some amazing feedback for the schools and from people viewing the exhibitions.
This project has done what it set out to do, it has raised the awareness of the people of South Gloucestershire, to the valuable contribution that was made during the First World War, by the people who lived in the same area one hundred years ago, and helped them to really connect with this important time in our history.
Cherry Hubbard: Project Engagement Officer 2014 - 2018
South Gloucestershire Second World War Stories project
We are delighted to have been awarded funding by the Heritage Lottery Fund for our South Gloucestershire Second World War Stories project. Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project aims to explore the impact of the Second World War in South Gloucestershire, both during and in the post-war years.
Since April 2018, we have delivered 60 reminiscence sessions, been researching and developing a touring exhibition, researching the names of the fallen on the Counties war memorials, starting to create short films on people’s war experiences and developing a schools programme. We are very busy, but it is a fantastic project which we are very much enjoying.
Please come and see our new touring exhibition which focuses on the impact of the Second World War on the lives of the people of South Gloucestershire. The themes of the exhibition include ‘At Home’, ‘Civil Defence’, ‘Under Attack’, ‘Changing places’ and ‘Front line’. The exhibition features many quotes from local residents who lived in the area during this time.
Dog fight over Filton, 25th Sept 1940. Imperial War Museum© (CH 1823)
Tour dates, venues and community events
4 - 16 February - Staple Hill Library. Community events - 16 February 10 - 12.30pm
18 February - 2 March - Filton Library. Community events - 28 February 10.30 - 12.30pm
4 - 16 March - Thornbury Library. Community events - 14 March 2 - 4pm
18 - 30 March - Patchway Library. Community events - 19 March 4 - 6pm
1 - 13 April - Bradley Stoke Library. Community events - 11 April 11 - 2.30pm
15 - 27 April - Kingswood Library. Community events - 24 April 2 - 4.30pm
29 April - 11 May - Yate Library. Community events - 3 May 11 - 4pm (TBC)
13 - 25 May - Winterbourne Library. Community events - 24 May 11 - 4pm (TBC)
27 May - 8 June - Cadbury Heath Library. Community events - 31 May 11 - 4pm (TBC)
10 - 22 June - Downend Library. Community events - 22 June 10 - 12.30pm (TBC)
24 June - 6 July - Emerson green Library. Community events - 28 June 11 - 4pm (TBC)
8 - 21 July - Yate Leisure Centre.
22 July - 4 August - Kings Chase Shopping Centre, Kingswood. Community events 25 July and 3 August 10 - 4.30pm (TBC)
2 - 15 September - Avon Valley Railway
16 - 28 September - Hanham Library. Community events 28 September 10.30 - 12.30pm
The community events are designed to enhance the exhibition. Please come along to the events and share your, or your families, stories of life in South Gloucestershire during the Second World War. Bring along your photographs and we can scan them to add to the ‘Know Your Place’ website.
We want to share your stories about what it was like to grow up, live and work in South Gloucestershire during or in the aftermath of the war.
If you feel you can contribute in any way, such as putting us in contact with individuals whose story you think we should capture, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
War memorial information: southglos.gov.uk/leisure-and-culture/museums-and-galleries/war-memorial-sites/