This Friday 10th November, the Rumble Museum held its first ever collection day. In partnership with the University of Oxford, as part of their national Lest We Forget project, the museum opened its doors to the community, who came with a wide range of items, including stories, photographs, medals, letters and diaries.
The day kicked off with David Allton and Richard Townsley from Frontline Living History, who arrived with a dazzling array of original and replica artefacts from World War One, ranging from helmets and guns to gas masks and a full set of surgical equipment. They ran three highly informative workshops for Year Nine students who are studying the history of medicine. Students learned about how wartime led to a range of developments in medicine, as well as how the development of weapons such as mustard gas, for example, led to treatments for leukemia. They were able to handle artefacts such as shrapnel and to try on different helmets. At the start of the war, soft peak caps were issued, and it was only later that hard helmets such as the Brodie helmet, were given to soldiers.
At 2pm, the museum opened to the wider community. Local residents and relatives of Cheney students brought all sorts of items to the event, where they were met by students and historians, ready to record their stories and objects.
One gentleman brought a cigarette case which had prevented a bullet and protected his grandfather at the Battle of Passchendaele. Another person brought a music manuscript for a love song about a soldier in World War One. A number families brought medals, letters and photographs. One family brought the wooden grave marker of their relative, Capt. Charles Gorrell Barnes DSO MC kia 1918, who had been in the Rifles Brigade. Another family brought a handwritten diary from a soldier, which was very detailed. The range of objects and stories was really fascinating and in many cases, the experts were able to shed new light on items.
The team of Cheney School students from Years Eight, Nine and Twelve, had been trained by Dr Stuart Lee from the University of Oxford to run all aspects of the process, from manning the welcome desk, interviewing the visitors, to digitising the items by photograph.Every person who arrived was registered by the students, before being shown to an interview guest, where one student asked questions and another scribed the interview. At that point, the item was passed to the digitisation team whose role was to photograph the items - over 400 photographs were taken during the event!
We were very fortunate that historian Dr Stephen Barker was on hand to give information on items, and Frontline Living History showed visitors and students their artefacts, which members of the public were able to handle and find out more about. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission were running an information stall about their work, and were able to give new information to a number of families who visited the event with items. We were also privileged to welcome local historian Liz Woolley and a number of relatives from the 66 Men of Grandpont Project.
We are very grateful indeed to everyone who took part in this event and especially proud of our student team who worked tirelessly to process the items and welcome our visitors.