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New heritage project reflects on post-war North and South Tyneside

The communities of South and North Tyneside are to come together on a fascinating new heritage project to help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

The South and North Tyneside World War One Community Heritage Project is being developed between the two boroughs to recognise and explore the legacy the conflict left on local communities as the nation prepares to mark its centenary next year.

Work to build a picture of post-war life is now underway thanks to National Lottery players after the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded £40,600 to the project.

Councillor Ed Malcolm, Chairman of South Tyneside’s Armed Forces Forum, said: “The First World War originated in Europe but became an international battle fought on a geographical scale never seen before.

“What happened during that four year period is very well documented. But what it less well known is the post war period and life in the home communities, despite these being times of significant transition and adjustment. The ‘war to end all wars’ not only devastated a nation economically, it left society with widowed women, fatherless children and countless soldiers returning home physically and psychologically wounded.

“The development of this exciting new project will help us to understand the challenges faced by ordinary people in everyday life, from dealing with death and disability to changing industries, unemployment and the roles of women.”

The project involves schoolchildren, community groups and residents working with library staff and local history groups to research and celebrate the experiences of ordinary families and individuals whose lives changed following the homecoming of WWI soldiers.

Communities will then use the research to produce new educational resources, such as displays, reports, film, poetry and artwork. The research will also be interpreted in wider post war exhibitions with support from cultural venues such as South Shields Museum and Art Gallery and Segedunum Roman Fort in Wallsend.

A new website will also be created to host and preserve the findings for showcasing as part of centenary celebrations in November 2018.

Councillor Gary Bell, North Tyneside Council’s Armed Forces Champion, said: “Whole communities were devastated by the First World War and it’s important that we continue to reflect on the terrible impact it had on people’s everyday lives here in the North East.

“I’m very proud to see how the two councils have worked together to secure these funds and pay tribute to The Fallen of 1914-1918, while also remembering the injured and the widows and families who suffered long after the final shots were fired.

“The sacrifices they made for the freedoms and liberties we have today will never be forgotten, and this project will be a fitting and poignant reminder of that to mark the 100th anniversary.”

Councillor Malcolm added: “The 100th anniversary of the war ending will see the whole country come together to commemorate this historical event. This provides us with an ideal opportunity to reflect on how this important era shaped society as we know it today.”

The project is being delivered in a partnership between South and North Tyneside councils, South and North Tyneside library services, Community Arts Project North East (CAPNE) and Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums.