2August 4th marks exactly 100 years since Great Britain declared war on Germany in 1914 and thereby entered the war to end all wars
In respect for this significant date, and the four tragic years that followed it, as well as the aftermath of war, Swindon in the Great War is proud to announce a series of events organised by local groups, organisations and companies.
Mike Pringle, below, chair of the group, and author of Swindon: Remembering 1914-18, said: “ A group of committed volunteers has been working hard at this for the last eighteen months, determined to see Swindon’s role in the war given the respect it deserves. We are really pleased, and proud, that now the centenary is here, that events are all falling into place.”
The events include:
• Monday August 4th – 5.30 to 7pm Launch of book about the town’s contribution to the national effort Swindon: Remembering 1914-1918 by Mike Pringle, published by The History Press, at Christchurch Community Hall, Drove Road, Old Town.
• Monday August 4th – Vigil at St Bartholomew’s Church Royal Wootton Bassett. Candles will be extinguished at 11pm, to represent the comment attributed to Foreign Secretary Viscount Edward Grey on the eve of the Great War: “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime”.
• Monday August 4th – Exhibition opens at Royal Wootton Bassett Museum, in the Town Hall. Exhibition will feature a mock trench, photographs and memorabilia.
• Monday August 4th – 6.30pm, Bob Lloyd will be holding a walk & talk event relating to Purton’s Great War. Check www.purton1418.co.uk for details of this and other events relating to Purton.
• Wednesday 6th August – 1pm, Opening of exhibition "Swindon in the Great War – One Town’s War", in Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, Bath Road. Packed with photos, documents, objects and information relating to Swindon during 1914-1918, the exhibition runs from 6th August 2014 to 31st January 2015. Free entry.
• Friday August 8th – 7pm, A special screening of Stephen Spielberg’s WAR HORSE, on the Big Screen, Wharf Green. Tickets are free, but please register by emailing email@example.com inserting in the subject line War Horse and the number of tickets you require. Bring a picnic and seating, and enjoy the film in true alfresco style. Spaces on first come first serve basis. Over 12s only.
• Saturday August 9th – 11am to 4pm inSwindon BID Company along with the Brunel Shopping Centre and Swindon in the Great War will be turning Swindon town centre in to a place of celebration and commemoration for the Great War.
Free activities include a traditional street party in Wharf Green with music and dance through the last hundred years, Great War films on the Big Screen, bread making the old fashioned way in Theatre Square, World War I British Army recruitment stand with weapons, posters, equipment and accessories for 1914 in the Parade, large inflatables in Canal Walk and climbing wall (free to try) in Havelock Street.
Inside the Brunel there will be an exhibition by local history societies plus Memory Wall, gaint poppy mural and poppy bombs. For the Street Party there will be marquees & picnic tables – free to use but book to make sure of a place – email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject Street Party.
• Sunday August 17th – 10.30am to 4pm. Swindon in the Great War Exhibition in Radnor Street Cemetery – local historical societies gather to remember the Great War. To book a place on a guided tour at 11am and 2pm, call Mark Sutton on 07870 701049 or Frances Bevan on 01793 875416.
• Friday August 22nd to December 31st 2015, Exhibition at STEAM Museum: “A Railway at War – the role of the GWR and its employees during World War I” looks at the role the GWR took in World War One.
From munitions work, to specialist carriages, the GWR built a multitude of items for the war effort. The exhibition also looks at how GWR employees were affected by war, not only the men who went to fight, but also the men and women who were left behind and continued to be employed by the company in many different guises. A range of never seen before material and objects will be on display. Free with standard admission.
• Sunday September 7th Purton PADS street theatre event – The Purton PADS group will be holding a street theatre event at various locations through the Village. At the Village hall there will be refreshments and information stands regarding the Great war, the Purton museum also plans to be open on this date. Details: www.purtonmagazine.co.uk
• Wednesday September 10th -7.15pm ‘Life in the Trenches’ talk & enactment by WW1 historian Steve Williams. Central Library, Regent Circus. Details: 01793 463238
• Thursday September 11th – 6.30pm ‘Heroes’ Adaptation of French play by Tom Stoppard, with supper included. Boswell’s Café, lower level The Arcade, Brunel Shopping Centre. Details and tickets available from Boswell’s Café and The Centre Management Suite, 29 The Plaza.
• Wednesday 17th September ‘A talk on World War One Poets’ by Lynda Warren. Central Library, Regent Circus Details: 01793 463238
• Friday 19th September ‘Twelve Ten Fifteen’ tells the heroic and tragic story of Edith Cavell. Swindon Arts Centre, Devizes Road Details: 01793 524481
• Wednesday 24th to Saturday 27th September Phoenix Players’ performance of ‘Oh What a Lovely War’. Swindon Arts Centre, Devizes Road Details: 07517 698083 email@example.com
Swindon in the Great War is a community-led campaign committed to making sure that Swindon and the local area’s considerable contribution to World War I is properly recognised.
We all work together under a shared logo that is free for anyone in the area to use. This way marketing and publicity is considerably stronger, and it means that all groups and individuals can benefit from being part of a bigger, united approach.
South Swindon MP Robert Buckland with the Swindon Heritage team in front of the Sandford School memorial plaque. From left, Mike Pringle, Robert Buckland, Mark Sutton, Frances Bevan, Graham Carter. Photo by Richard Wintle of Calyx
The group was founded by a small number of local historians and others who felt, as the centenary of the 1914-1918 conflict drew closer, that nothing was being done in the area to give the war the weight of commemoration it deserves.
This seemed particularly tragic given the depth and range of Swindon’s involvement in the conflict, which saw connections to every theatre of war, on every continent, and in every field of the armed forces. And, as well as this direct impact that Swindon had, through locals in the military machine and the supply of essential equipment from local factories, the borough played host to a Home Front that exemplified the efforts, sacrifices and fortitude of Britain as a whole, in much the same way as Swindon is still demographically representative of the wider UK.
At this important time of commemoration, Swindon’s efforts are almost certainly as representative of the whole nation as they were a hundred years ago, with huge time and volunteer resource being put into activities by dedicated members of the public and some other organisations, particularly local history groups.
What we are hoping to achieve, by working together, is to lift the commemoration from a display of photocopies blue-tacked to a dusty board in a community centre, into something that reaches out to all, whether they are grandchildren of Tommies, British or French, Sikh or Japanese, German or Turkish.
For more details contact: Mike Pringle 07768 917466 firstname.lastname@example.org
Read about Vernon Henry St John, 6th Viscount Bolingbroke from Lydiard Park who served with the 3rd Devonshires, and is believed to be the only peer of the realm to serve as a private.