It’s good to see the Cockermouth Post back in action again and it’s a timely opportunity to let people know what has been happening within the Heritage Group over the last few months.

Last autumn, the Kirkgate Centre was

successful in obtaining Heritage Lottery funding to commemorate WWI as it affected our town. There were several aspects to the funding application: the recording of memories of older townspeople; providing an educational resource for children to understand life 100 years ago in their local community; planning a digital resource on the website to be the start of a ‘virtual museum’; using drama combined with WWI objects to convey a sense of everyday life; and the production of professionally designed WWI display boards, combining both text and image.

For the oral history part of the project, a small group of people were trained in oral history techniques and visited the four

residential care homes in

Cockermouth. We placed several display boards with relevant local images from the WWI period in each home for one week and then went back with a collection of objects from our store, talking to residents and identifying those who were happy to have their memories (and those of ancestors) recorded. We discovered there are some amazing stories out there, going back to the post-WWI years and through WWII – no- one, it seems, is ‘ordinary’! These sessions were extremely interesting and valuable, the worst part being the many hours needed afterwards to type up transcriptions to produce a written record!

An educational resource pack has been produced for Key Stage 2 children, looking at life 100 years ago. This combines information, images, suggestions for children’s activities and extracts – one from a diary kept by the daughter of Robinson Mitchell (auctioneer) and the other from a letter sent by a Cockermouth soldier from the trenches. The pack is in five sections: My Town, My Home, Life for Children at School and

to these pages in the future, to create a ‘virtual museum’.

Letitia Thornton worked with children from the Kirkgate’s Youth Theatre to produce two productions, based upon WWI-related objects and images from the Heritage Group’s store. The Kirkgate Young Performers (ages 10-4) worked on The Blackberry Pickers, inspired by the diary of Joycelyn Mitchell (aged 10). The piece interwove imagined letters from the children to their fathers and brothers at the front, with scenes depicting how the war affected daily life at home. The Kirkgate Young Actors (14-18) performed ‘Dead Man’s Penny’, dramatising

the experience of

convalescent soldiers at Cockermouth Castle and the VAD nurses who cared for them. The two pieces were cleverly linked together through character and family members written to in the first piece, appearing as convalescent soldiers in the second.

Finally, a set of eight professionally- designed boards, incorporating text and images, incorporating the results of research by the group into WWI, will go on display in Christ Church until 23rd May and then in Cockermouth Library

Certificate for prize relinquished WWI Frank Waite

Leisure, Life for Women, and Life for Men. Each pack has a set of A3 laminated images and we plan to distribute the packs to nine primary schools in total.

A professional photographer has photographed a large number of our objects relating to life 100 years ago. These will be incorporated on to web pages on the Kirkgate/Heritage group websites. You will be able to click on the images to find out more about the objects in relation to Cockermouth’s history. Hopefully, we will add

from 24th May to 31st May - see posters for opening times, or email us. We hope you will come and see them.

As always, please get in touch. Gloria Edwards

Dead Man’s Penny WWW.THECOCKERMOUTHPOST.CO.UK ISSUE 431 | 23 MAY 2019 | 3

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