Lancaster nostalgia: World War One project

Battery buses, Market Square, Lancaster.
Battery buses, Market Square, Lancaster.
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A Lancaster local history project is now set to gather the stories from ‘behind the scenes’ of the First World War.

Lancaster Military Heritage Group and a team of researchers from Lancaster University have secured Heritage Lottery Funding to look at how the war impacted on the people at home.

5th (Reserve) Battalion outside the YMCA in King Street. Picture by Peter Donnelly of Lancasters Kings Own Regiment Museum.

5th (Reserve) Battalion outside the YMCA in King Street. Picture by Peter Donnelly of Lancasters Kings Own Regiment Museum.

They are now keen to hear from anyone who has a story to tell about Lancaster in WW1. The focus will be on the soldiers who came home, the men who stayed at home and the women and children who waited for loved ones to return from the front line.

“We want to supplement the stories already told with stories passed down from generation to generation – those tales which are not part of the public records,” said Dr Corinna Peniston-Bird, a senior lecturer in Lancaster University’s History Department.

“We would love local people to share any relevant letters, photographs and stories with us.”

The project will ‘flesh out’ the very popular ‘Streets of Mourning’ project which, two years ago, mapped Lancaster’s lost WW1 soldiers on to the streets where they lived, enabling people to click on a street name on a unique, interactive map to see how the war impacted on a particular city area.

'Pals' of the 5th Battalion, King's Own after Church Parade, 6th September 1914, outside Lancaster Castle. Picture by  Peter Donnelly of Lancasters Kings Own Regiment Museum.

'Pals' of the 5th Battalion, King's Own after Church Parade, 6th September 1914, outside Lancaster Castle. Picture by Peter Donnelly of Lancasters Kings Own Regiment Museum.

“We now want to tell other short stories so the deaths are more than just statistics and capture other ways that the war impacted on Lancaster,” said Dr Peniston-Bird.

To that end a team from the project, which also includes Lancaster Civic Society and the King’s Own Regiment Museum, will be at Lancaster University Campus in the City premises in St Nicholas Arcades on Saturday May 14, from 10am to 4pm.

Armed with scanners, cameras, recording equipment and volunteers, the team wants to collect as many precious memories as possible.

The event will also include the trial of a new, exciting mobile phone application, which takes the user on a walk through the city, highlighting key points of WW1 interest including photographs and some real-live footage linked to key points along the route.

The guided walk, led by Peter Donnelly, the curator of the King’s Own Regiment Museum, sets off from the Campus in the City shop (opposite Next) at 11am.

At 2pm there will be a chance to ‘Meet the WW1 Solder’ together with a host of linked children’s activities and an opportunity to meet the new Mayor, Councillor Robert Redfern.

An exhibition of WW1-inspired articles and art created by the pupils of Moorside Community Primary School will also be on show.

Dr Peniston-Bird said: “It promises to be an exciting day and we would really like to meet as many Lancaster people as possible who are willing to share their precious WW1 items and stories so we can see how this war resonated through the generations.”

All of the memorabilia and memories will be captured and used on a new website, due to be launched at Armed Forces Day at Lancaster Castle on June 25 and in Morecambe on June 26, when the team hope to gather even more stories.

For details of the project, please see the website at: http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/greatwar/.