Poignant tales come to life at exhibition
5:30am Thursday 7th August 2014 in By Craig Jones, Reporter
Buy this photo Mike Pringle, organiser and historian, Teresa Page, mayor, Sophie Cummins and Mark Sutton at the launch. Pictures: Vicky Scipio
A NEW First World War exhibition aims to educate people from all generations about the affect the conflict had on Swindon.
The Swindon Museum and Art Gallery display, called Swindon In The Great War – One Town’s War, launched yesterday and will run until January 31, 2015.
The attraction has been put together by campaign group Swindon In The Great War, who are running a series of events to commemorate the centenary of the war.
The exhibition features archive photographs, old uniforms, weaponry, medals and paperwork.
Sophie Cummings, curator of the centre, in Bath Road, said: “I think it is an excellent exhibition and it brings to light all the different experiences that the people of Swindon encountered during the conflict.
“Obviously there are many poignant messages that come from discovering the servicemen’s tales and I find the prisoner of war letters fascinating – especially the tale of Mary Slade, who would collect and send essential everyday items to Swindon servicemen who had been captured abroad.
“The exhibition certainly shows how the First World War changed the day-to-day lives of so many people.
“Given the huge importance of the centenary across the whole country, I think it was essential for us to do something to mark the milestone.”
The exhibition has taken a year to put together and Swindon in The Great War is very proud of it.
Historian Mike Pringle, a member of the group, said: “We have got everything you can imagine that is connected with the First World War. There are a lot of display boards which tell a story with the artefacts making it feel real for the visitor. We tried to include something from every perspective as it is not just about those who served.
“We have looked at how the war changed women’s roles in Swindon and the change in schools. As a group we have put a lot of effort into this and we have a great sense of pride.”
The history group and the Old Town centre hope the exhibition will be visited by many families during the summer holidays, while they will also be running workshops with schools when they return in September.
Mike said: “We received a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to support the exhibition, which is fantastic.
“The majority of the money will be spent on holding workshops for local children and helping them have a greater understanding of the First World War’s affect on Swindon.”
- For more about Swindon’s Great War commemorations, visit www.swindoninthegreatwar.wordpress.com