100 years on…

And so the commemorations to mark the centenary of the start of the first World War has begun…

There will be many events and plenty of TV coverage to keep us all informed of what happened 100 years ago, and we will be encouraged to ‘Remember’, to look back and reflect, to weigh up what that war means for us today.

Frank Bernard Lane

Frank Bernard Lane

For me, I know that one of my great grandfathers, Frank Bernard Lane, served for his country and although I never knew him I appreciate what he sacrificed for us, although I do know that he survived the Great War, unlike many of his friends, I suspect.

I have read many stories of bravery from our wonderful project researchers and have been impressed at the willingness of men and women to step into the unknown and risk their lives for the ‘greater good’. I hope you manage to have a look back through our archived blog posts to discover some of the stories. I also hope you get a chance to see the touring exhibition, when it is ready from September 2014 onwards, at your local museum or library, where you can read more fascinating stories.

Essex Poet, Luke Wright (photo courtesy of martin Figura)

Essex Poet, Luke Wright (photo courtesy of Martin Figura)

We were pleased to present the first of five completely original poems written by local poet, Luke Wright. He has taken the research given to him by our project manager, Tony Morrison, from our volunteer researchers, and turned it into a wonderful, reflective poem about what was going on in Essex, 100 years ago. Please do read it and let us know what you think.

In addition, the Essex Record Office and our partner museums have begun to work on education sessions or resources for secondary schools. Chelmer Valley High School, in Chelmsford has already held an art competition in conjunction with both the Essex Fire Museum and the Essex Police Museum. You can see their art work on our Project Partners: Schools page.

If you get a chance, do have a look at the EROs most recent blog post: ‘And so the mad Dance of Death has begun’: a look at the Essex County Chronicle of 7 August 1914, which is an extensive look at the Essex Chronicle’s reports from 100 years ago.

Whatever you do to remember, always remember that these were ordinary human beings like you and I, sucked into a frightening and traumatic experience beyond their control. What would you do today? Would you be first in line to sign up to go to war and serve for your country? Or would you have held back, with dread? None of us can say…

Sarah Girling, Project Manager

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Education Update: Essex Police Museum

Our research volunteers have been working very hard to uncover stories from Essex so that they can be compiled into an exhibition, to be launched in September.

Meanwhile our museums have been meeting with teachers to work together to create educational sessions on the First World War, using collections, that will last beyond the life of the project.

Becky Wash from the Essex Police Museum has been working with volunteer Mick Ford and teachers from Chelmer Valley High School.

EPM logo

Here’s summary of their plans:

Research

Mick Ford has done a large amount of research relating to the Fire Brigade during the Great War.  A Fire / Police connection can be made with the L32 crash near Billericay, although the police museum does not have any material relating to the L32 crash. A model of the L32 is currently on loan to Stow Maries Aerodrome.

The museum’s main WW1 story is the L33 crash at Little Wigborough. This occurred on the same evening as the L32 crash, however there appears to be no fire connection with the L33 crash.

Volunteer Adrian Jones is currently researching the story of Zeppelina and Charles ‘Zepp’ Smith. Trustee Maureen Scollan is researching Dr Salter – a Special Constable and doctor who helped give birth to Zeppelina, and Special Constable Edgar Nicholas.

Schools

Mick is a teacher at Chelmer Valley School. He has introduced me to the art and history teachers and together we have arranged for a short assembly on March 12. The assembly will run with a powerpoint presentation. We have chosen ‘Zeppelins’ as our topic.

From our presentation, the year 9 pupils will create a piece of artwork based on ‘The Nightmare’  – a pastel on display at the museum. As an incentive I have offered to choose and display one student’s piece.

The history teacher showed keen for a loans box of objects, photographs and copies of original documents, laminated. This would be fairly simple to create, and there is funding within the project for this.

A combined ‘Emergency Services’ Loans Box could help boost outreach figures for both the Essex Police Museum and Essex Fire Museum and would also help with the limited time curators have delivering a session.

The history teacher was also in favour of visiting the museum for a delivered session and admitted that although it would be more difficult to arrange it would not be out of the question.

More information about the Zeppelin raids can be found in the Essex Police History Notebook No.7 and in our blog post Zeppelins over Essex. The L33 story was also featured on the BBCs WW1 at Home website.

This is a great start and we wish the Police Museum every success with their plans.

Can you help with a ‘nightmare’?

In the collections of the Essex Police Museum, there are three pastel drawings by J Cattell, 1915.

By J Cattell, 1915.  But who was J Cattell & how did the pastel drawings end up at Essex Police Museum?

By J Cattell, 1915.
But who was J Cattell & how did the pastel drawings end up at Essex Police Museum?

However nothing is known about the artist, where the pastels came from and how they ended up with the Essex Police Museum.

Museum Curator, Becky Wash, explains:

It is part of a series of three pastels by J Cattell dated 1915. I’ve tried to do quick research on the artist but didn’t find anything. The three pastel series are named ‘A Specials Constable’s First Night Out’ and also on display in the museum are ‘The Ghost’ (two Special constables find what looks like a ghost in chains which turns out to be a horse) and the rather humorous ‘Love?’ where two Specials find what looks like a burglar breaking through   a window but actually it’s just a man getting a cheeky kiss from his lady, through the window – the result is she knocks her tea flying when the specials pull him out of the window!

They are unlikely to be ‘Essex’ Special Constables as the Specials are wearing uniforms and Essex Specials were only issued with an armband, no hat or coat – although could be Colchester or Southend based – we don’t know. There’s not much history behind them where they came from etc.

Can you help in any way? Or do you know someone who might be able to help? We’d love to hear from you if you think you can solve this History Mystery!