Grays – can you shed any light?

Hannah Salisbury, Audience Development Officer at Essex Record Office (ERO) needs your help…

Do you know something that could help to unravel what is happening in this photograph?

Photograph of Warspite Boys’ Band and army recruits at Grays station, 1914 (I/Mb 357/1/17)

Photograph of Warspite Boys’ Band and army recruits at Grays station, 1914 (I/Mb 357/1/17)

According to our catalogue it shows army recruits at Grays station in 1914, accompanied by the Warspite Boys’ Band.

The Warspite was a training ship anchored off Woolwich in Kent run by the Marine Society, which trained boys and young men for a life at sea. (You can find out more about the training ships on this page of the fantastic

I’ve approximately identified three distinct groups within the crowd shown in the picture, as labelled below. Area 1 shows the Warspite Boys’ Band, area 2 shows the men I think are the army recruits, and area 3 shows the crowd gathered to watch.

You can see the band and a group of men following, possibly new recruits?

You can see the band and a group of men following, possibly new recruits?

I am trying to pin it down to a date, and ideally it would be wonderful to find a newspaper article or some other document to explain more about what is going on in the photograph. If you think you have any information that could help, I’d be very grateful if you could get in touch:


Centenary of the First World War: Our Legacy

Stuart Hobley is Development Manager for Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in the East of England. In this blog he outlines the sort of projects that HLF is supporting along with steps your group can take to make an application for funds.

As we begin Centenary commemorations, it is clear that many local groups want to learn more about the First World War and how it changed their community. The impact of the war was far-reaching; in many cases tragic but often inspirational and a source of pride for communities across the East.

To help communities explore how the War shaped all aspects of life, we have a number of grant programmes that can provide essential funds to support research, displays, special events etc. – a whole variety of activity that will give everyone the opportunity to be involved in this legacy.

If you're looking for funding take a look at the Heritage Lottery Fund's website

If you’re looking for funding take a look at the Heritage Lottery Fund’s website

What is your community’s story?

Here at HLF I get to talk to so many different groups about a wide variety of project ideas; what’s clear to me is the shear breadth of themes and issues that you can explore. From the lives of soldiers to those left behind to those who objected. There were extraordinary advances in technology and in 1915, the Women’s Institute was created to help support the country. There was tremendous impact on our agricultural workforce and many new organisations were formed to support the wounded and disabled servicemen who returned.

And what speaks through all of this? The lives of those who witnessed this devastating conflict… Olive Edis, the photographer from Norfolk, employed by the National War Museum (better known to you and me now as the Imperial War Museum) to highlight the British Women’s Service; Lance Corporal Sidney Smith whose letters home were often annotated with cartoons and caricatures (and the letters themselves can be seen at Norwich Castle); or what about Inspector O’Connor who kept the streets of Bishop’s Stortford safe whilst the war raged overseas.

I’m learning about stories like this through projects we’re funding! We gave £10,000 to a group in Mersea, Essex to help people learn about fighter pilot Edgar Roberts, who would often fly out in the company of his beloved dog, Mick. A letter by Edgar was found in an old jar in 1988.. and now local children across Mersea Island are discovering even more about the War.

The lives of ordinary people who were testament to the most extraordinary events… if you are planning a project, think about the stories and people from your community. What is their story and how can you share this with others?

What sort of projects can get funding?

The projects we support deliver a whole range of activity. This could be communities working together to produce an exhibition; or young people producing a play based on historical information. We can help to fund websites, digitising records, photographs and ephemera; maybe you have something that needs conserving? We have helped to restore a whole array of existing dedications to the conflict, including war memorials, rolls of honour, and parish records.

All projects we support must help people, and wider range of people to understand and be involved with their heritage.

We even have a new grant programme called First World War Then & Now which offers grants of £3,000 to £10,000. This has been specifically developed to help local groups mark their First World War stories.

HLF can support not-for-profit groups and so far in the East of England, more than 50 projects have received funding; from restoring war memorials to using archive material to create drama. We’ve funded museums to help schools understand the impact  and supported villages to research and remember the fallen.

We want to see collaborative projects that bring communities together, especially those that help young people to understand the conflict.

How do I get started?

If you want to apply to HLF, the first thing to do is complete a project enquiry. This is a short form on our website; tell us what you want to do and how much money you think you need: we’ll then let you know if it is the sort of project we might fund. This is an effective way of getting advice and feedback from us before you apply.

We also have many good examples of funded projects on our website, along with helpful FAQs about different themes and issues. You can read these here:

Some helpful links!

So, if you want to get started why not see what other projects are doing? Some examples of other funded HLF projects can be found here: and

You can learn more about our grant programmes here:

Not only that, but HLF is working in partnership with a new First World War Engagement Centre based at Hertfordshire University. They too will have a variety of useful resources and can help with research. Learn more about this here:

There are also many other helpful online resources including:

You can also follow us on twitter @HLFEoE and #understandingWW1


The Battle of Arras – Can you help?



 For the centenary, the Wellington Quarry Museum in France, is preparing a big exhibition about the soldiers who were in Arras during the Great War.

Carriere Wellington image

For this project, the museum is looking for photos of soldiers who took part in the Battles of Arras in WW1.

The photos will be displayed in the whole town of Arras in big formats so that the inhabitants, local people or visitors can cross the faces of the men who lived in the town for 3 years.

This project will also be divided into 3 levels:

  1. Finding the photos of the soldiers
  2. Finding the stories of these soldiers (life, letters, archives…)
  3. Finding the descendants of these men to attend the dawn Service in  Arras on April 9th 2017

If you have photos, ideas or links which can help us or if you are a descendant please contact us:

The Wellington Quarry Museum in Arras: or

Carriere Wellington Poster

An Essex Heroine, nurse Kate Luard

Our guest blog is written by Caroline Stevens, Great Niece of Kate Evelyn Luard. If you came to our event back in November you may recall Archivist Allyson Lewis showing us a sketch that Kate, or Evelyn/Evie to her family & friends, had drawn of her tent in the field. There will soon be a book released about her life, entitled Unknown Warriors and Caroline will share more nearer the time. Watch this space…

Katherine Evelyn Luard was born in 1872, the 10th of thirteen children born to Rev. Bixby Garnham Luard and Clara (nee Bramston). Her childhood was spent at Avely Vicarage, Essex, and Birch Rectory, near Colchester in Essex.

The Luard family on Birch Rectory Steps

The Luard family on Birch Rectory Steps

After training as a nurse at the prestigious nurse-training school of King’s College Hospital, London, she offered her skills to the Army Nursing Service and served for two years in South Africa during the Second Anglo-Boer War.

On August 6, 1914, two days after the British Government declared war against Germany, Kate enlisted in the QAIMNSR (Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Service Reserve). She served in France and Belgium until 1918, first on the ambulance trains and then in casualty clearing stations ,and was awarded the RRC medal (Royal Red Cross) and Bar (a rare distinction) and was mentioned in Despatches for gallant and distinguished service in the field.

During this time she exchanged numerous letters with her family at home. Many of those she wrote were published in two books: ‘Diary of a Nursing Sister on the Western Front 1914-1915’, published anonymously in 1915; and ‘Unknown Warriors: the Letters of Kate Luard, RRC and Bar, Nursing Sister in France 1914-1918’, first published in 1930. A new edition of Unknown Warriors will be published by The History Press in August 2014.

The majority of these letters are held in the Luard archives at the Essex Record Office, Chelmsford (Search Seax for D/DLu).

Unknown Warriors, due for release in August 2014

Unknown Warriors, due for release in August 2014

British Pathe News & Essex

British Pathe News have recently released all their 85,000 films on YouTube, and a quick search for Essex from 1910 – 1920 on their website turns up some interesting films from the First World War.

Thanks to Andy Smerdon, on Facebook, for highlighting some of these films.

You can view them on the British Pathe News website and on YouTube.

Screen shot of the British Pathe News website

Screen shot of the British Pathe News website