New exhibition remembers Birmingham’s First World War

Rookery School pupils re-enact relataives receiving news from the Front Line.
Published: Friday, 28th September 2018

Birmingham’s role in the First World War and the impact it had on the city and wider West Midlands is the focus of a new exhibition which opens at the Library of Birmingham next month (5 October).

Voices of the First World War brings together work carried out by community organisations based in Birmingham and the West Midlands, since centenary commemorations began in August 2014, to tell untold stories or share findings of new research.

This exhibition, organised by the Voices of War and Peace WW1 Engagement Centre - based at University of Birmingham and the Library of Birmingham - opens on 5 October 2018 and runs until 5 January 2019 in The Gallery, on Floor 3 of the Library.

Some of the projects featured include work created by pupils from Rookery School in Handsworth, looking back at how life in and around the city has changed since 1918; a behind-the-scenes look at Birmingham’s wartime hospitals at Highbury in Moseley, the former home of Joseph Chamberlain, and the 1st Southern General (University of Birmingham); and controversial stories from the frontline.

Councillor Tristan Chatfield, cabinet member for social inclusion, community safety and equalities, said: “Birmingham has been remembering how the armed forces defended our country during the First World War and the many citizens who died on the frontline, throughout this centenary.  The exhibition shows the wider impact the war had on our city and beyond, not just at the time but for decades that followed, in terms of how society ‘worked’.”

Dr Nicola Gauld, Co-ordinator for the Voices of War and Peace WWI Engagement Centre, at the University of Birmingham, added: “The work of community groups in the West Midlands and across the country since 2014 has helped improve our understanding of the Great War.  We are proud and excited to be able to showcase examples of this work which tells some untold and unknown stories about the war, from the experiences of injured soldiers returning to their home city and attempting to resume a ‘normal’ life to the traumatic effects the war had on children and the impact on women’s lives.”

All of the projects included in the exhibition were funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) First World War: Then and Now grants programme. Thanks to National Lottery players, since 2010 the HLF has funded over 2,000 WWI projects across the country. Each one has enriched and expanded our knowledge about the First World War.

Voices of the First World War is a free exhibition, open from Friday 5 October 2018 to Saturday 5 January 2019 at the Library of Birmingham, open 11am to 7pm (Mon-Tues) and 11am to 5pm (Wed-Sat).

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