Many of Whaley Bridge’s Organisations and Groups put together a 2 day exhibition at the end of November in the Uniting Church to Commemorate WW1 and its impact on families and social life in and around Whaley Bridge (supported by a £500 grant from HPBC, and a £150 grant from Whaley4Wards via the Town Councils regeneration budget).
An enormous amount of research and background work had been undertaken by the groups and individuals who showcased their displays for all the community to enjoy and more than 500 people visited the exhibition. Chris Simpson created a photo display of over 75 photos capturing local life and local images of the war, accompanied by accounts of individual stories, and other historical detail. Julian Thompson presented an audiovisual display detailing various local WW1 soldiers, and based around detail from his website www.whaleybridgefirstwar.co.uk (currently temporarily hosted at http://www.peterthomp.co.uk/blank_web/index.htm ) .
The Royal British Legion and Whaley Bridge and Furness Vale History Societies showed artifacts, books and documents, with some newly published local history books created by the societies available for purchase. Sue Rowlands from the Whaley Bridge History group based at Footsteps, set up a moving and central art display depicting the names of local soldiers who lost their lives. Personal effects and memorabilia including interesting military artefacts such as a Maxim machine gun, medals, shells, gas masks and war ceramics were also on show. The Library presented a display of WW1 themed fiction and non-fiction literature and information on further research and learning opportunities using the Library’s website links. They also provided an interactive session for children with the aid of themed colouring sheets of WW1 aircraft and ships.
All the local schools contributed some works of art – Buxworth displayed an interesting pictorial account of the story of a local family following the death of a father; Taxal and Fernilee created a mural of soldiers in the trenches, Whaley Bridge presented some wonderful poppy collage and some stunning dazzle camouflage artwork, Furness Vale displayed their poster of periscopes they had made against a backdrop art depicting the atmosphere of the trenches. A real WW1 trench periscope was exhibited next to these, and many children were able to try it out.
Yarnbirds Knitting Craft Group showed yarns and knitted garments such as would have been made at home to support the war effort eg balaclava and mitts and a centre piece of a wreath of knitted poppies and the Whaley Bridge Art Group created a feature window display based on a selection of poetry depicting aspects of WW1.
Local pianist David Oldbury played live wartime music and Discover Buxton Living History Group attended delivering a variety of informative facts including an enactment featuring actors’ renditions of a soldier’s experiences and of Vera Britain memoirs. An archiving facility was available on the day, allowing materials brought by visitors to be scanned or photographed for posterity. A collection was taken to support both Help For Heroes and to provide a fund for a plaque to record the names missing from the Memorial in the Park. This raised a total of £400.96, which will be split between the two causes.
The comments we received at Church were extremely positive – the event provided a range of well presented professional information and many people thought it should have been open longer.
Others said that it helped to bring the community together and it was pleasing to see so many individuals and organisations involved.
An amazing anecdote was when a visitor asked Chris Simpson about a picture of a Soldier who he said was his Great Grandfather, and 5 minutes later somebody else asked exactly the same question – they were duly introduced to each other , they had never met before!!!!
While some names are given above in this brief article, there were many others who were involved and without whom the exhibition would simply not have been able to go ahead. The organising committee would like to thank all of you for all your time and effort. The committee would also like to thank all those members of the public who attended the exhibition over the two days, and made it so successful.