Charity collects local memories of First World War

Children of the Great War exhibition Pic: Lewisham Library

Children of the Great War exhibition Pic: Lewisham Library

First World War stories and memorabilia were collected at Lewisham Library yesterday as part of community arts project.

The remembrance project, ‘Children of the Great War’, has been organised by reminiscence charity Age Exchange ahead of the centenary of the start of the First World War next year.

Memories and material shared by Lewisham residents are to be curated into an exhibition, a documentary and a theatre production.

Alex Mustapha, an event organiser for Age Exchange, said: “We’ve had some stories told that have been passed down from generation to generation. Some people have brought in some found objects – a lady with a bayonet came into our office the other day!”

Family historians were present at Saturday’s event to research residents’ personal stories. The library’s collection of WWI books, letters, medals, photos and diary entries were also on display.

Sabrina Rowlatt, a local studies librarian, described the importance of remembrance for the Lewisham community: “World War I touched so many lives. Lewisham had three military battalions, a military hospital – what now is the current Lewisham Hospital… There were air raids, lots of civilian loss of life.”

Rowlatt continued: “One hundred years is such a long way back, but by looking at personal histories we can bring these stories back to life. Many people may not remember, but the impact of WWI is still felt – some people never remarried or had children and this has had an impact on local communities.”

All testimonies will be added to an international historical archive hosted by Oxford University, ‘Europeana 1914-18’.

Further opportunities to submit stories and memorabilia will be made available next year. WWI memories and experiences can be shared through contacting Age Exchange in Blackheath.

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