August 4th 2014 marked one hundred years since Britain’s entry into what later became known as the Great War. It also marked the beginning of a four year period of national commemoration, as we remember and reflect upon the experiences of people both at home and abroad during the First World War.
In Richmond, a programme of remembrance has already begun; with more than 100 commemorative events and activities that have already taken place in 2014; ranging from the planting of poppy fields, the restoration of war memorials, exhibitions and local schools’ projects. More recently, a Heritage Lottery Fund grant allowed young people in the borough to explore the rich and yet undocumented history of Richmond’s First World War, in a project called In Their Footsteps: Richmond’s First World War. With more events planned for 2015-2018, we are keen to further discover the untold stories of our local area during the First World War.
The Arts Service has launched a project that will bring together the captivating stories told by individuals and community groups of the experiences in the borough during the Great War. We are calling this project Village Stories, as it aims to collect narratives from the fourteen villages of the borough: Ham & Petersham; East Sheen; Hampton Hill; Kew; Richmond & Richmond Hill; Strawberry Hill; Twickenham; Barnes; Hampton; Hampton Wick; Mortlake; St Margaret’s & East Twickenham; Teddington; and Whitton & Heathfield. Stories from each of the villages will be gathered and showcased in an exhibition at Orleans House Gallery in 2018.
We do of course, need your help! As part of the project, we will be conducting oral history interviews with those who have tales to share and attending community events as part of an outreach programme. We are keen to hear from you – do you have any stories, photographs or ephemera relating to Richmond during the First World War that you would like to share? If you do, or know of anyone who does, then please do get in touch. Similarly, if you have been involved with research into a local organisation or community during the period 1914-1918, then do contact us. The Village Stories exhibition in 2018 is a great opportunity to share and showcase your work – and we’d love to do so.
You can follow our progress in the project using this Village Stories blog – a platform we will use to share tales, photographs and individual memories of the borough’s First World War. We’ll also post events and activities happening in the borough to commemorate the war, and we’ll share details of hands-on reminiscence workshops aimed at uncovering more of Richmond’s stories. We will be introducing guest bloggers too – which is a great opportunity to share your own research or family narratives. If you would like to write a guest blog for us, or use the blog to promote a commemorative event, then do get in touch!
Keep up to date with all First World War events happening in the borough by visiting: http://richmond.gov.uk/ww1 and keep an eye on national events at http://www.1914.org/events-calendar/. Be sure to sign up for notifications when new blog posts are made – you can do this on the blog homepage! For more information on the Village Stories project, or to discuss how you might contribute, then please contact WWI Outreach Coordinator, Daniella Hadley: Daniella.Hadley@richmond.gov.uk.