We will work with young people to explore and articulate through a range of traditional and social media the impact that the outbreak of the First World War had upon the Isle of Sheppey and young people of the time.
Recognising its strategic position between London and Europe, the 1914 government strengthened and fortified all the services on this “ Barbed Wire Island” as The Isle of Sheppey was called.
This project will map the changes which occurred on the Island due to the massive influx of Navy, Army and Airforce personnel onto Sheppey and people’s reactions to this through the eyes of actual young people who were alive at the time such as Flora, a seventeen year old cook in a Sheerness seaside house in Marine Parade.
We will explore their activities and interests, how they work, life at school and how they play as well as what they think of this very different world & the households in which they now live. We will involve local historians, use census information and archive articles in local newspapers and museums to research the everyday life of the young people and their families one hundred years ago but employ modern technology and today’s social media to record their impressions.
We worked with Students from the Sheppey Oasis Academy
We had weekly meetings with the History Club at Academy East in Minster from March to July 2014
We researched census forms from the streets where the students lived.
We re-enacted the scenes that would have occurred in the families where the sons & daughters were offering themselves for recruitment into the services as soldiers, sailors, Airmen & nurses.
The students suggested and planned a recruitment campaign for the school to recruit more students to take part in the project
We designed posters based on original WW1 posters
The students baked Anzac biscuits using the old recipes and gave out hundreds of biscuits at a lunch time event as an inducement to encourage more recruits
The students planned several drama activities based on stories of local Sheppey people and their experiences
Students collected and put together their costumes and the students planned their characters
During the Summer we put on a series of Banner Painting workshops
Children & young people were invited to join in designing and painting 12 x 10foot silk banners which were fitted to the lamp posts in Sheerness High St. The banners were to raise awareness of our Summer Promenade Festival ” WAR & PEAS’
The Festival included a series of events including a re-enactment of a WW1 Recruitment Parade.
The schools on the island were invited to take part in the Parade
The participants were dressed in uniform or appropriate civilian attire of the period. The parade was led by the band and finished by the Clock Tower where we all sang the Great War songs
Sheppey Parade – Sheerness High St September 20 2014
Big Fish Arts Great War Promenade talk in Halfway Cemetery Isle of Sheppey with Historians David Hughes & Daf Charman. A party of families walked round the War Graves in the cemetery and the stories behind the lives & deaths of the individual soldiers, sailors & Airmen were brought to life by David& Daf. Poems were also read.
Geof & Chris Reed preparing for the Recruitment Campaign Recruitment campaign at Sheppey Oasis Academy West on 25 September 2014
The Students baked 200 Anzac Biscuits from an original Recipe. They were handed out by the students in order to drum up even more interest in the Flora’s War Project
Students from the Oasis Academy prepared and rehearsed a play to show to the pupils at St Georges C.E.P school to explain to them aspects of the start of WW1 including recruitment and the unique place which The Isle of Sheppey held in the history of the war
December 2014 After a series of 12 Lantern making workshops in November and early December in Schools, Youth Groups, Cubs & Scouts we made 200 lanterns for the Lantern Parade
The Students in The Transition Groups researched the local Census forms and chose the characters they wished to re-enact We then Took ” Mugshots ” of them all and they completed their Replica permit books in the same way that their chosen character would have done in 1914
We visited the Blue Town Heritage centre which was holding an exhibition about World War 1 on Sheppey
The students planned and wrote the script for the Film News On Sheppey 1915.
In particular the students were keen to explore the Princess Irene Disaster which had occurred exactly 100 years ago when nearly 100 local dockworkers as well as hundreds more sailors were blown up when the mine laying ship exploded as she was being loaded
We visited The Halfway Cemetery where we filmed some of the scenes relating to the Princess Irene disaster next to the graves of several of the victims.
We also had a trip to our local aviation museum where we continued to film more scenes on the spot of the original Eastchurch airfield.
The students finished the film with some scenes along the Promenade
From March we also worked with the YAF young people’s group. They researched the life of Franz Losel a German photographer who lived & worked on Sheppey until he was suspected of being a German Spy.
Part of the research centred on the Life of James McCudden VC . One of the group Made a beautiful scrap book depicting his life & tragic death
The YAF group decided that they would like to make a time slip film called “Passport to the Past” in which a photograph and other objects found in a time capsule transports a couple of policeman back and forth from 1915 to 2015