Lancaster City Museum project to commemorate resilience of city's people through Hinge of Fate in 1942

The story of ‘The Hinge of Fate’: a year in which the Allies could have lost or won World War II will be told through an exhibition at Lancaster City Museum.
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Winston Churchill described 1942 as ‘The Hinge of Fate’: a year in which the Allies could have lost or won World War II.

"It marked in fact the turning of “the Hinge of Fate”. It may almost be said, “Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat.” – Winston S Churchill, The Hinge of Fate.

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Soldiers from the King’s Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster) faced death and hardship on active service, while on the Home Front, those in Lancaster and beyond endured many

A poster for the Hinge of Fate exhibition at Lancaster City Museum which runs until next February, 2023.A poster for the Hinge of Fate exhibition at Lancaster City Museum which runs until next February, 2023.
A poster for the Hinge of Fate exhibition at Lancaster City Museum which runs until next February, 2023.

hardships, with separation from loved ones with continual worries for them, rationing, air raids and the very real threat of invasion.

Lancastrians overcame the uncertainty of 1942 through resilience and ingenuity in ways that continue to inspire us today.

As we begin our third year of living with uncertainty, loss and restrictions during the pandemic, the current war in the Ukraine, and even the threats we face from the climate emergency, we will examine how people coped with the difficulties of 1942, drawing parallels with our present situation.

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‘Hinge of Fate: living through uncertainty in 1942’ will uncover the difficulties of living through wartime.

A poster for the Hinge of Fate exhibition which runs at Lancaster city museum until next February, 2023.A poster for the Hinge of Fate exhibition which runs at Lancaster city museum until next February, 2023.
A poster for the Hinge of Fate exhibition which runs at Lancaster city museum until next February, 2023.

The project, funded partially through the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and delivered in partnership with the Lancaster City Museums and King’s Own Trustees, will run until

February 26 2023, and everyone is invited to join in.

The story will be told through an exhibition at Lancaster City Museum, which will focus on three themes: Uncertainty, Resilience and Resolution.

'Uncertainty' will document the disconnection experienced by soldiers overseas and their loved ones at home. We will examine the emotions people felt - fear of death and defeat, anxiety and boredom, and the difficulties caused by food shortages, rationing, and waiting for news against a backdrop of propaganda and misinformation.

Evacuees arriving in Morecambe. (© Lancaster Guardian archive)Evacuees arriving in Morecambe. (© Lancaster Guardian archive)
Evacuees arriving in Morecambe. (© Lancaster Guardian archive)
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'Resilience' will share how people adapted to challenges: cooking economically, recycling for the war effort and digging for victory. We will examine the hardships faced, and how friendships, romances, music and dancing lifted their mood. We will uncover how soldiers and civilians prepared for war, training and learning new skills, and how people coped with death, danger and damage to property.

'Resolution' will tell the story of how second world war soldiers helped to turn the tide of the war, how good news was exploited for propaganda and the prevailing spirit of living for the moment. It will also remember those who died, reflecting how sacrifice led to hope of victory and survival.

There will also be different events running through the duration of the project, which include WI food tasting and cookery demonstrations, an ENSA-style music event in the Market Square, and Light Up Lancaster and Sandylands Primary School will be teaming up to bring light art to the Museum during the popular festival in November.

Robin Ashcroft, chair of the King’s Own Border Regiment Museum Trust said: “Our new exhibition - The Hinge of Fate: living with uncertainty in 1942 - is an important step forward for the King’s Own Royal Regiment Museum.

Local community donating metal to the war effort. Picture courtesy of Lancaster Guardian archive.Local community donating metal to the war effort. Picture courtesy of Lancaster Guardian archive.
Local community donating metal to the war effort. Picture courtesy of Lancaster Guardian archive.
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"The Second World War was very much a “Citizen’s War”, and we seek to reflect this, by telling not just the regiment’s stories in this pivotal year, but also those of the families and communities our soldiers left behind. Probably, for the first time since the dark days of the 1940s, we find ourselves living in a time of equal uncertainty and risk and can perhaps more readily relate to the experiences of our forebears as ‘ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”

Alison Lloyd Williams, heritage projects coordinator, Global Link, said: “Hinge of Fate allows us to build on the work we've been doing on our Heritage Fund Migration Stories NW project - researching stories of people who've migrated in and out of our region. We were interested to look at migration stories connected to the Second World War and see the impact this had on Lancaster and beyond. We are also excited to be working on heritage projects with asylum seeker and refugee volunteers and to hear their perspectives on the stories and the issues raised.”

Lucy Reynolds, director, Lancaster Music Festival, said: “This project is important to LMF as it allows us an interesting way of connecting with young people through a specific musical genre. It is a fabulous portal between the music of then and now. We got involved as our shows in Market Square are directly outside the museum and as a community interest company our main aim is to engage with as many Lancaster organisations as possible. It was a perfect way of bringing museum and festival together both geographically and philosophically.”

Events as part of the Hinge of Fate project over the next few months include:

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Lancaster Music Festival – October 16 – ENSA event – Market Square, Lancaster. The festival team has worked with young people to create a participatory ENSA-style event.

Light Up Lancaster and Sandylands Primary School – November 4-5. Local children will work with an artist, creating light art on the theme of Remembrance for Light Up Lancaster festival.

Allied Nations Day June 1942 in Lancaster. Photo from King's Own Museum.Allied Nations Day June 1942 in Lancaster. Photo from King's Own Museum.
Allied Nations Day June 1942 in Lancaster. Photo from King's Own Museum.

Global Link education charity. People seeking sanctuary will participate in a digital storytelling workshop, creating a film telling the story of a refugee to Lancaster in 1942, which will feature in the exhibition.

The Dukes Theatre – Eating for victory. The Dukes Theatre team will work with young people, where they will taste and discuss ration recipes, made by the WI.

The outputs from this activity will be decided by the young people taking part.

For more information visit here