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Digging for clues on war training camps

Entrance to the army camp, Slonk Hill, near Shoreham, c1914. Picture: P003437, West Sussex County Council Library Service, www.westsussexpast.org.uk

Entrance to the army camp, Slonk Hill, near Shoreham, c1914. Picture: P003437, West Sussex County Council Library Service, www.westsussexpast.org.uk

STUDENTS will be working alongside older volunteers to track down behind-the-scenes stories from First World War army camps in Shoreham.

Worthing Museum is co-ordinating the history project, Training for War – Shoreham Army Camp, with the help of a £38,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Stuart McLeod, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South East, said: “The impact of the First World War was far reaching, touching and shaping every corner of the UK and beyond.

“In this centenary year, we’re pleased to support groups like Worthing Museum who, through this project, will enable the local community to explore their wartime stories and help to build a lasting physical legacy for generations to come.”

Hamish MacGillivray, arts and exhibitions curator at Worthing Museum, is leading the project.

He has been working with Shoreham residents in the build-up to the grant bid, ‘digging for clues’ about the huge training camp surrounding Buckingham Park and on Slonk Hill, overlooking Shoreham.

There are already records and pictures in the archives but the grant will give Worthing College students and older volunteers the chance to investigate further, drawing together their findings for a public exhibition in 2015.

Mr MacGillivray said: “One reason for doing this project is to find more images, so we will be asking local people if they have any images, objects or memories they could lend us for the students film project.”

The plan is to train students and volunteers in archive research, mapping and oral history. They will visit archives to uncover forgotten details, such as entertainment and mutiny.

Jason Lee, film studies and creative media production teacher at Worthing College, said: “This project is an exciting way of creating partnerships between Worthing College and museums and archives in Sussex, and also creating links with our students and older volunteers.

“On a more personal level for the students, it is a way to discover and appreciate the events of the First World War in a local and international context.”

In the autumn of 1914, more than 20,000 recruits lived in tents in the area.

The tents were later replaced with wooden huts but life was tough for the new recruits, who came from all over Britain.

By 1916, the British recruits were replaced by Canadian soldiers, many of them recovering from trench warfare.

A touring exhibition and film of the findings will start at Worthing Museum in April, 2015. Volunteers at Shoreham Fort, the Queen Alexandra Hospital Home in Worthing, Royal British Legion, Archaeology South East and local residents are all helping with the project.

 

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