The ‘Seeing It Through’ WW1 community project was set up to enable East Herts residents to explore their First World War history; the project was awarded £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund in September 2016.
The project was officially launched in mid September 2016 by Hertford-based community theatre company Pins & Feathers Productions, in partnership with the Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies Library (HALS). Awarded through HLF’s First World War: then and now programme, its focus was on life on the Home Front in the towns and villages of East Herts.
The project began with three community history days on Saturday 8th October (Ware), Saturday 15th October (Thundridge) and Saturday 22nd October (Buntingford). Each community history day included a free “Tracing your Ancestry” session (provided by HALS – a big thank you to the very knowledgeable and helpful Janice Brooker) and also local history displays (thanks to Richard Hale School Archives , Puller Memorial School and John Wing for the Map of Mourning (Ware Museum). The Ware history day also featured talks by Dr Julie Moore (on local agriculture, food and WW1) and Louise Reed (on life as a nurse at a Voluntary Aid Detachment hospital). Each community event linked up with performances of the Pins & Feathers’ play ‘Seeing It Through’, which toured East Hertfordshire in the autumn.
Mid-way during the Project, participants had the opportunity to visit HALS to learn new research and interpretation skills. Volunteers were also able to learn how to design their own touring exhibition. Participants chose “Escape from the War: Entertainment and Sport in East Herts during WW1” as the title of their exhibition, which looked at the impact of WW1 on local past-times. Topics of research included cinema, musical entertainment, pub-going and sport. The touring exhibition toured Buntingford (Sat 11th February 2017), Sawbridgeworth (Tuesday 14th February 2017), Ware (Sat 18th February 2017) and finally moved to HALS (from 27th February 2017 until 29th April 2017). The Sawbridgeworth and Ware events featured WW1 interactive storytelling for families (from storyteller Vickie Holden). Our project finished officially on Saturday 25th February 2017, after engaging with many different individuals, groups and organisations across East Hertfordshire; we had a wonderful celebratory event at HALS which was attended by the Hertford Mayor, Linda Radford as well as Sue Davis from HLF East of England, plus several of our stakeholders, local councillors and our wonderful volunteers. Thank you to everyone who has taken part and we hope that many more will comment and add to our research in the future!
“We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, making this project a great opportunity for people to get involved in uncovering the hidden stories of the First World War,” said Kate Miller of Pins & Feathers.
Pins & Feathers’ play ‘Seeing It Through’ told some of the real life WW1 stories from the East Herts area and was the inspiration for this project.