The impact of World War One on a Derby Neighbourhood
Here are some of the events we organised as part of our Heritage Lottery Fund project between June 2014 and June 2016
OUR PROJECT BEGAN IN JUNE 2014 WITH A PERFORMANCE OF "THE SECOND MINUTE"
In 1914 Thomas Swann, an innkeeper's son from rural Nottinghamshire, enlisted to fight on the Western Front. The play, based around a series of letters written by his family to him at the front and his replies home, gave a vivid account of what life must have been like for many serving on the Western Front : muddy, frightening and most of the time boring, a long way from life at home, with many men struggling to communicate with their families about what was happening to them.
Nottingham Playhouse specially commissioned Andy Barrett to write this play to tour to many locations that do not normally host professional theatre. This performance at Broadway Baptist church on 6 June 2014 was supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund. Funding also came from Darley Neighbourhood Board.
DERBY AT WAR
12 March 2015
Dr Mike Galer gave a talk about what Derby was like during World War One. Mike has just researched and published "Derby Remembering 1914-18" in the series Great War Britain.
TRIP TO IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM NORTH, MANCHESTER
19 April 2015
A group from Six Streets visited the exhibition "From Street to Trench". With the local "Pals" regiment so much a part of the history of the North-West the museum told the story of how local communities were affected by the First World War. Telling the personal stories of ordinary men and women through photographs, letters and memorabilia was very moving, with the use of film and frequent listening posts to hear firsthand accounts of people who lived through the times. One recording reminded us that with no radio people relied on newspapers, often local produced, for all their news and often had little interest in world events - an interesting reminder of how the world has changed.
The story was widened to tell what it was like women drafted into war work - working in munitions factories, food production and textile manufacture are just a few examples. The story about how men were encouraged to volunteer was an important part of the story and one large wall of the exhibition was covered with colourful recruitment posters.
Several of our group commented about how the telling of individual stories made the exhibitions throughout the museum so interesting and very different from the Imperial War Museum in London.
ARTS & HISTORY TRAIL
27 & 28 June 2015
Around the area during the weekend of the Arts Trail we posted pop-up information panels telling the stories of some of the residents who were directly affected by the war. During the weekend over 800 people visited the area, visiting houses, exploring the arts venues and many of these visitors read our information panels.
For information about Six Streets people in World War One please go to the page "Lest we Forget". Here you can find copies of display panels telling the individual stories of local people - we will gradually be uploading more stories as our research progresses.
Exhibition and Roadshow
We held an exhibition at Broadway Baptist Church all through the Arts Trail Weekend. During the weekend genealogy consultant Kevin Brown of "Relative Strangers" was on hand to offer advice on tracing military family history. About 340 people visited our exhibition, talking to members of the team and learning more about the history of the area and telling us new information!
Here are some of the comments we had from visitors:
The street displays made the history very locally relevant - ie next to houses we know.
We are thrilled to have the story of someone who actually lived in this house that we have just moved into and to know their story.
It is so good to see the panels near the actual house where someone lived, to think of them stepping out of that door to go to war, or possibly coming home on leave or for good. It does make it feel so real.
It was interesting reading the stories because it wasn't history about big people but about ordinary people with ordinary lives which the war changed forever.
18 June 2016
Six Streets History took part in the Street Sale when was another chance to see the "pop-up" exhibition that was on show during the 2015 Arts Trail. Scattered around our streets, tied to lamp-posts, trees and gates people could read the stories of those men in our area who went away to fight and read about the women who volunteered for the war effort.
At the same time all those living in the area received a copy of our history guide telling the stories of Six Streets people in World War One.
TRIP TO NATIONAL RAILWAY MUSEUM, YORK
3 September 2016
We were delighted to secure a grant from the Centre for Hidden Histories Community Development Fund. This allowed us to subsidise a coach visit to the National Railway Museum in York. The museum has reconstructed an ambulance train from the First World War, Nine of these trains were made in Derby at the locomotive works, so it was of interest to our area where many of the residents were (and still are) "railway families".
A coach group of neighbours, friends and family enjoyed the day out - marred only slightly by torrential downpours for most of the day.
The hospital train, along with the accompanying exhibition, gave a real insight into what it must have been like to work and travel on such a train. Only the most seriously injured were transported home from the casualty clearing stations to regional hospitals or to home - and chillingly we learnt only those likely to survive the rigours of the journey were put on board. This was often a bumpy, uncomfortable journey and bewildering for the soldiers who weren't told where they were going. The plight and confusion of soldiers from India, unable to communicate their pain and needs to the nursing staff, came in for special mention. The reconstructed carriage was small, with some of the bunks reconstructed and with audio-visual interpretation and holographic images of patients and staff telling their stories.
What struck many was how uncomfortable the jolting train journey was for those in significant pain and how difficult the working conditions for the nursing and auxiliary staff - squeezing past other visitors was cramped enough while the train was stationary - how much more difficult this would have been on a moving train.