(Image: children and older singers at Goldies WW1 centenary project launch, copyright: Golden-Oldies Charitable Trust)
There are lots of projects planned in Bath & North East Somerset to mark the 100th anniversary of World War One. Projects which are keen to involve local people are listed below. To view the full WW1 centenary events calendar use this link.
Some of the finest and most moving poetry ever written dates from the First World War. A series of annual poetry evenings marking the centenary of each year of the conflict has been organised by Bath & North East Somerset Council in association with Bath Poetry Cafe. The first event 'Poetry 1914' was held on Armistice Day in 2014 and attracted a large, appreciative audience. 'Poetry 1915: The Darkness and The Thunder and the Rain', 'Voices 1916: Requiem for the World' and 'Voices 1917: Returning We Hear the Larks' were equally well received. 'Voices 1918: Remembrance Day' is the last in the series and will take place on 31 October 2018 at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution. Details will be posted on the WW1 Centenary events calendar nearer the time.
Keynsham Town Council and Keynsham in Bloom have joined forces on a project to create a huge cascade of knitted poppies on the tower of St John's Church in the town to mark the centenary of the Armistice and remember those who sacrificed their lives in the First World War. They are hoping thousands of poppies will be made by local people for the cascade, which will be installed on a net on the Church tower from 5 November 2018. Knitting patterns and wool can be collected from the Town Council offices or the pattern can be downloaded online. Poppies are being collected at the Town Council until 19 October 2018. See the Keynsham Poppy Cascade knitting appeal poster for futher details.
Calling all primary schools… an inter-generational project based on the commemoration of the final months of 1918 leading up to the Armistice. From the Golden-Oldies Charity you will find full details on project ideas, medleys to sing and much, much more on the 'Our Memories' project website!
In November 2017 the 'Goldies' charity, headed by Grenville Jones, launched 'Our Heritage, Our Schools, Our Community', a programme of First World War song medleys and learning ideas for use by primary schools who are encouraged to get together with groups of older people to sing and discover the last years of World War One together. This follows on from another successful singing programme 'World War One - Our Heritage in Songs and Memories' which the Goldies ran with schools in 2014 and 2015. The new programme, launched at St Michael's Church in Bath, featured children from Widcombe Junior School, St John's Catholic School, Three Ways School and Farmborough Primary School, who had learnt songs to perform. For details about how your school can get involved see the 'Our Memories' project website.
In November 2017 it was announced that the new streets in the Mulberry Park housing development in Bath will be named in honour of local men who fought in the First World War. This came about from an idea put forward by Combe Down Heritage Society, whose members have been researching the lives of the men whose names appear on the Combe Down and Monkton Combe war memorials over the last few years. The first streets, named after Harry Patch (the 'last surviving Tommy'), William George Chivers and Herbert Charles Windell were dedicated just before Armisitice Day in 2017. Further street names will appear throughout the development. Link to news report about the commemoration event.
The Royal British Legion has launched its 'Thank You' campaign to encourage people from all communities to show their gratitude to the men and women who served in any way during the First World War. The campaign will focus on events and activities from 8th August to 11th November 2018 - the final 100 days of the WW1 centenary. In particular, the RBL will ask people to use their extra 'daylight saving' hour in late October to do something to say 'thanks'. See the RBL web page and RBL campaign launch information to learn about 'Thank you' and to read some fascinating facts about how the First World War changed life forever. 'Thank you' includes a creative competition for 9-16 year olds to create an artwork, song, poem or creative piece to thank the wartime generation. For further details see the RBL competition page. The deadine for entries is 11 September 2018.
In 2017 the Commonwealth War Graves Commission marks its 100th anniversary. The organisation is keen to publicise its work and to promote public awareness and care of the war graves in the UK. There are 100s in cemeteries in the Bath & North East Somerset area from all of the major conflicts in the last 100 years. You can search for local graves using on the CWGC website. If you are interested in finding out about being a volunteer please get in touch with the Community team at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Local historian, John Branston, recently tracked down a memorial plaque from the Pitman Press (later The Bath Press) that had been missing for many years. The plaque is now being housed at the Museum of Bath at Work (read the story in the museum newsletter here). John's research into local war memorials has revealed that two other memorial plaques from local organisations are also missing. These are from the Bath YMCA and the Good Templars Bath Branch. We would love to know where these memorials to men who served in the First World War have gone. It would be great to track down these memorials - and possibly repatriate them to Bath - before the end of the World War One Centenary in 2018. Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the plaques can contact John Branston directly or via the Council's WW1 Centenary team. Please email with any information.
The Royal United Hospital are appealing for local people with family memories or memorabilia relating to Bath War Hospital (which was on the site of the RUH at Combe Park from 1916-1929) to get in touch. An exhibition, Bath War Hospital: Acts of Kindness, about the community effort which aided the treatment and rehabilitation of soldiers injured in the First World War, was displayed at the Royal United Hospital to mark the centenary of the opening of the War Hospital in 2016. RUH patients, young and old, and their families were involved in an art project about the War Hospital and the tapestries they produced are now on permanent display in the Hospital. The team are collecting memories about the War Hospital for a commemorative booklet and Bath War Hospital website. Anyone who has memories or items to share can contact the Art at the Heart team at the RUH on 01225 824987 or through the Art at the Heart website.
The not-for-profit campaign 'Remember WW1', which encourages people to volunteer their time and efforts for projects and events which commemorate World War One, launched a national awards scheme at the mid-point of the centenary. Groups and individuals nominated over 160 projects in five categories. We offer our congratulations to the team at Art at the Heart of the Royal United Hospital as their 'Acts of Kindness' Bath War Hospital centenary exhibition and art project at the Royal United Hospital was a runner-up in the Arts and Creativity category. Further information can be found on the Remember WW1 website. A video of the exhibition and art project can be viewed from the Art at the Heart of the Royal United Hospital evaluation web page.
At a Cabinet meeting on 9 September 2015, the Council voted to grant 'Centenary Field' status to Firs Field in Combe Down, Bath. The Council report can be read here. Centenary Fields is a nationwide initiative co-ordinated by 'Fields in Trust' in association with the Royal British Legion. The aim of the scheme is for local authorities and landowners to dedicate one recreational space (such as a memorial playing field) as a space to be protected in perpetuity to honour the memory of those who lost their lives in the First World War. The community in Combe Down arranged an event to mark the Centenary Field status on Saturday 17 September 2016. The news report can be viewed here.
Visitors to Keynsham Library can view the Book of Remembrance containing the names of the fallen of Keynsham and Saltford from both World Wars. The book is on permanent display and the pages are regularly turned. The pages are handwritten and hand bound in leather. Requests can be made to view particular names. In 2014 the library team were able to show a lady the name of her father recorded in the book. He had died before she had been born. It was an emotional moment for them all.
Visitors to the Somerset and Dorset Railway's museum at Midsomer Norton station can view items from the First World War compiled by local historian and author, Chris Howell. The items form part of a larger display about the history of the branch line. The opening times and train running times can be viewed on the Somerset and Dorset Railway's website.
Researchers in Weston, Bath, collected information about the families of First World War soldiers listed on the village's war memorial. The stories and research about the 36 men from the area who lost their lives in the War have been passed to Bath Record Office.
Bath Songwriters Group (who meet monthly at The Ram, Widcombe) are planning to write and record original songs, inspired by World War One. The resulting album will be put on sale for charity. Members of the group write songs of all genres (classical, folk, rock, jazz ...) so we are expecting a wide range of styles and themes. We offer encouragement and help to anyone who is interested in writing songs, whatever their experience or ability, and we always welcome new members. Contributions for the album might include completed songs or simply ideas, in which case members can collaborate to create the finished song. For more information, please visit the Bath Songwriters Group website: www.bathsongwriters.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(information correct as at 15 April 2014)