Berwick wins lottery funding award for World War One project

Award will allow town to plot impact of First World War on the Home Front and its soldiers abroad

A man walks his dog through a paper poppy field outside the Menin Gate prior to a ceremony for Armistice Day in Ypres, Belgium
A man walks his dog through a paper poppy field outside the Menin Gate prior to a ceremony for Armistice Day in Ypres, Belgium

The story of a town’s experiences during the First World War will be told thanks to a lottery funding award.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has given £9.800 for the project in Berwick.

Cittaslow Berwick, in partnership with the Berwick Branch of The Royal British Legion, will focus on the lives and actions of civilians and members of the armed services from the communities of Berwick, Tweedmoth and Spittal.

Cittaslow is an international movement which was founded in Italy. A Cittaslow town aims to maintain and develop its distinctiveness.

The project will provide opportunities for local people to join in through a programme of activities, exhibitions and events.

The key themes being explored are life on the Home Front, the experiences of local soldiers and the lives of the men and women whose names are recorded on the town’s war memorials..

Working with Berwick Record Office and The King’s Own Scottish Borderers Regimental Museum, volunteers will be given training to enable them to research archive material, examine contemporary accounts, record family memories and digitise old photographs and documents.

The resulting material will be used to create exhibitions at various locations and to stimulate creative writing and pieces of drama that will be staged during next year’s Berwick 900 Festival.

Berwick Record Office will support classroom-based sessions and a series of activity workshops with local schoolchildren to be held at Longridge Towers School. Children from local first and middle schools, as well as Longridge Towers School, will work with living history re-enactors in a range of activities that will help them build a picture of life in the First World War.

Tim Manning, headmaster of Longridge Towers School, said: “Projects of this nature which bring history alive are an excellent learning tool and Longridge is looking forward to hosting the workshops for local schools.”

Berwick was a garrison town for several centuries and its people made an important contribution to the war on land, at sea, in the air and on the Home Front.

An event being staged by the project at Berwick Barracks and the Town Hall over the weekend April 25 and 26 next year will commemorate the 100th anniversaries of the Gallipoli Landings and of the Battle of St. Julien (2nd Battle of Ypres).

Locally-recruited battalions played a significant part in these actions, which both began on April 25, 1915.

The programme will include living history performances involving re-enactors and members of the Maltings Youth Theatre, a series of talks on a range of topics related to the First World War and an exhibition of material researched during the project.

There will be a particular focus on life on the Home Front and on active service abroad in 1915.

Bernard Shaw, chairman of Cittaslow Berwick said: “Cittaslow Berwick and the Berwick Branch of The Royal British Legion are absolutely delighted to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund for this project which has been created by the people of Berwick to record and explain to local residents and visitors the contribution made by the town’s communities during the war.“

Ivor Crowther, head of Heritage Lottery Fund North East, said: “We’re pleased to support this project which aims preserve and bring to life Berwick’s unique memory of the conflict and help local young people in particular to broaden their understanding of the First World War and how it has shaped our modern world.”

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