New project will uncover Wakefield’s wartime stories

1917 Thorpe, near Wakefield.

Munition girls.
1917 Thorpe, near Wakefield. Munition girls.
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A new project will help to uncover the lesser known stories of what life was like in the district during the First World War.

Wakefield Cathedral has secured a £9,200 Heritage Lottery grant to run the scheme, entitled ‘Then and Now, There and Here: The Imprint of the First World War in Wakefield’.

The Diary of George Kellet,from Abrigg,who served during the First World War at Wakefield Museum, pictured (First on the back row) George Kellet, with friends during the First World War.

The Diary of George Kellet,from Abrigg,who served during the First World War at Wakefield Museum, pictured (First on the back row) George Kellet, with friends during the First World War.

A team of volunteers will research and tell the tales of local people and war time events.

They will explore the use of the city’s girls’ school as a military hospital, the lives and impact of refugees who came to Wakefield seeking sanctuary and the conscientious objectors housed in the district who refused to fight.

Tracey Yates, the Cathedral’s community learning manager, said: “We are thrilled to have received the support from the Heritage Lottery Fund for this opportunity to work with local people to tell the untold stories of Wakefield and its people here at home during the First World War.

“Today Wakefield is a culturally diverse city and we want to emphasise the role of people from different cultures during the First World War by engaging with different local communities to discover and share their stories. “

People will be able to get involved in the project, which also marks the war centenary, through discussion groups, events and exhibitions.

The work will be digitally recorded as well as stored in booklets.

Sandra Pickin, Wakefield’s armed forces champion, said: “There’s a lot of people out there who have stories to tell about what they went through and what life was like at the time.

“The war had a huge impact on all the forces and their families and I truly believe everybody should know and understand what happened. We must never forget.

“But as well as the soldiers, the air force, the seamen and the work they did, it is important to recognise the efforts of people like the Land Girls, who contributed to the war through agriculture, the steelworkers, the mineworkers, those working in munitions, the women in factories making uniforms and parachutes. They all had a role to play.

“Everybody on home soil was affected in some way, living on rations and leading a completely different lifestyle.

“They all have stories to tell and I’d encourage people to tell them. I think the project will be brilliant.”