BBC local radio stations across England and the Channel Islands will launch the final collection of stories from the landmark project World War One at Home, run in partnership with Imperial War Museums.
Over the past two years around 1400 powerful stories about people and places on the home front of Britain and Ireland during World War One have been broadcast
and all are linked to specific places across the country. The final stories will be broadcast from Saturday June 25th.
The project has uncovered surprising stories about familiar neighbourhoods where soldiers trained, the wounded were treated, women worked in factories, crucial front line supplies were produced, major scientific breakthroughs were made, prisoners of war were held and where heroes and heroines are buried.
David Holdsworth, Controller of BBC English Regions, said: “World War One at Home has been an enormously ambitious project that has really engaged our audiences on BBC Local radio over the last two years. These final broadcasts will put the spotlight on people and places around the country that had a significant role to play during the conflict. And the dedicated BBC website that features all of the stories will provide a valuable digital legacy for years to come.”
Diane Lees, Director-General of IWM, said: “The World War One at Home project has inspired countless people across the UK to engage with and uncover stories about the impact of the First World War from their own communities. It has been a fantastic partnership project between the BBC and IWM and one that has shed further light on those who lived, died and survived during the First World War and the way in which we want to remember them now.”
BBC Sussex and Surrey
In Sussex, the coastal town of Peacehaven owes its creation to the events of the First World War. With many men from the local area signing up to join the War effort, a local businessman called Charles Neville devised a plan to create a garden city by the sea where people including ex-servicemen would be able to purchase plots of land upon which they could build homes and a new life.
Actor Brian Capron tells the intriguing story of the only town in the UK to be named after peace and how the evolution of Peacehaven was far more complicated than Mr Neville had anticipated.
In September 1914 a secret propaganda bureau was set up at Wellington House in London. The bureau was run by writer Charles Masterman and was said to be so secret that most MPs were unaware it existed.
The bureau called upon writers and newspaper editors to put together material which showed Britain’s war effort in a good light and to counter enemy messages. Wellington House also printed its own material including newspapers, cartoons and books which were circulated around the world to influence neutral and enemy countries.
BBC Radio Bristol
Downend in Bristol is the home to one of only two Boy Scout War Memorials on public land in the country. It was erected in 1921 in memory of members of the 1st Downend Scout Troop who lost their lives in the Great War of 1914-18.
The first name on the memorial is Rev P G Alexander who founded the Downend Scout Group in 1909. Philip Alexander was the curate of Christchurch Downend at the start of the 20th Century and was married to the niece of legendary cricketer WG Grace. When war broke out he joined up and, in 1916, was aboard HMS Hampshire when it was sunk by a German mine near the Orkney Isles. Lord Kitchener was also on board the ship at the time and both Kitchener and Alexander lost their lives.
BBC Radio Cumbria
In the 1930s, Bramwell Evans was known to millions from his role on BBC Children’s Hour where he regaled a generation with his tales of life from a travelling family. But prior to this, Evans was a Methodist Minister in Carlisle where he reached out to a new audience of munitions workers by holding religious services with musical entertainment in a popular cinema.
Evans and the Methodists in the city identified a need for social support for munitions workers. They looked after young women away from home; found lodgings for over 1000 men, girls and married couples who came to work in Carlisle;
and established Sunday evening services in Botchergate Cinema. These services attracted good quality singers and musicians and ran regularly at various points during 1916 and 1917, welcoming people into the cinema early on cold and wet days.
BBC Newcastle look at the vital, though secret, role that Cullercoats Coastal Radio station in North Shields, played during World War One. The station intercepted radio messages sent to and from German ships and U-boats and passed them to Admiralty Headquarters in London. Although they were encrypted, a number of German codebooks had been seized during the war, allowing many messages to be interpreted.
The Station had been built in 1908 when it was used by the inventor Guglielmo Marconi to send test signals to a station in Denmark. It continued to operate as a maritime radio station after the two world wars before it was closed in 1998.
All BBC Local Radio stations across England will broadcast five World War One At Home stories from June 25th to June 29th.
All the final World War One At Home stories and many more will then be available online on a dedicated website at www.bbc.co.uk/ww1
Notes to Editors
BBC “World War One At Home” journalists have also been working with academics from universities across Britain who have been supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The AHRC funds research in the arts and humanities and helps share the findings with the wider public.
Each World War One at Home story broadcast on radio and TV over the last two years will be available to listen to online and the audience will be able to browse stories to find out how their area’s experience contrasted with those elsewhere, and discover the nationwide experience of the Home Front.
The stories will be classified by place (a BBC local area such as BBC Leeds or BBC Kent or a nation – BBC Wales, BBC Northern Ireland and BBCScotland) and by themes such as Sport, Working for the War, War in the Air.
All of the stories will be shareable via social media – #WW1AtHome
For further information contact:
Karen Williams, Publicist, BBC English Regions
firstname.lastname@example.org or 0771 4957087