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