In March 2014, the Museum secured a grant from Heritage Lottery Fund for £3,800. This was to research, develop and stage an exhibition and events which focused specifically on the impact of World War One on the historic market town of Nantwich.
A dedicated team of volunteers carried out visits to Dunham Massey and Imperial War Museum North to develop ideas for the museum’s exhibition which opened in July. Using information and objects from the Museum’s collection, members of the public were also invited to bring in photographs, objects and share stories to ensure that the exhibition remained true to its commitment to examine how the war affected those left at home.
We were very grateful to individuals, Chester Record Office and Malbank High School for supplying us with items. This included images and school log books which offered a fascinating insight into life at the time. For example, headmaster of Nantwich and Acton Grammar School Alfred Powell, left for war almost as soon as it was declared. He sent a letter to the Nantwich pupils indicating that the war would last for longer than expected. It is difficult to imagine teachers leaving to take up military posts. Building work at the school also ceased during the war years.
Members of the public also kindly loaned medals, embroidered silk cards sent during the war, National Registration Certificates and shared their stories with us.
The exhibition highlighted how from 100 years on we can see how Nantwich responded as war broke out in 1914.Local and national newspapers, reminiscences, photographs and artefacts incorporated into the exhibition identified the sudden realisation of impending war by an unprepared market town and followed the emergence of a community gearing up to support the war.
Talks and event were held throughout the project including: prominent local historian Mark Potts examining the costs to the families of Nantwich with a focus on 1914/15, Bill Pearson, lecturer at Reaseheath talking about food production at the time, Professor Karen Hunt from Keele University on women and food, David Morgan delving into the Belgian refugees who came to Nantwich and last but not least local teachers Mary Hennessey-Jones and Eira Cottrell providing a wonderful insight into art and war.
More details about the research carried out can be found in a pamphlet specially produced as part of the project and can be obtained from the Museum shop.
Keep scrolling down to have a look at more of the interesting things we got up to as part of this project.
The exhibition explored themes of recruitment, Belgian refugees, convalescent homes, army contracts and community efforts.
The grant also enabled us produce low- tech interactives including puzzles and a wardrobe of dressing up clothes.
Events included World War One and Bees (also to link in with the town’s annual Food and Drink Festival) and a special day where we were joined by members of Cheshire Pals 4th Battalion.
We hope that people will continue to find out about the impact that war had on the market town by reading our pamphlet. Display boards are also available to borrow.
Our exhibition brought in visitors from near and far. These are a couple of the comments that were left:
‘This was an extremely sobering experience bringing back memories of my grandfather talking of the war – the horses and tanks. It reminds me of why he was reticent to talk about it. Thank you this was a well thought through exhibition.’
‘What a lovely exhibition to commemorate our local warriors.’
‘Very interesting exhibition, makes me realise the impact the war had on communities.’
‘A very nice museum and WW1 exhibition. We particularly enjoyed the small local stories and clever little details such as the Council minutes and china souvenirs.’
‘Wonderful, educational and interesting. For a small town to have a very rich history it is amazing. Thank you!‘
We would like to thank everyone who was involved in this project and the Heritage Lottery Fund for their grant.