In 1915, Owen Scott, the curator of The Bowes Museum, sent out a letter to the 44 townships of Teesdale suggesting a Roll of Honour be created to record all those individuals who served in the First World War – ‘whether in the Navy, the Army, or as Nurses – and of whatever rank.’ For unknown reasons, the Roll of Honour was not completed, although nearly 500 names are listed in the returns held in the Museum’s archive. The Museum is embarking on an ambitious project to complete the task started back in 1915, covering the original 44 townships and incorporating areas now included in Teesdale.
The Museum will assist individuals and community groups over a five year period in researching Teesdale people involved in the war and in creating a permanent social history record of the impact of war on the local area. The project will explore themes such as the impact on the role of women, agriculture, communities and future generations.
The project will involve a number of community events, culminating hopefully in a publication and an exhibition including artefacts, histories, letters and photographs uncovered in the research phase of the project. Ongoing progress and discoveries made along the way will be reported in partnership with the Teesdale Mercury and on the website.
The Museum’s superb new library, archive and reading room will act as a focal point for research activity, supported by the Museum’s Honorary Archivist as Research Advisor. Volunteers from the Museum library and archive volunteers team and new volunteers from the community will work on original material in the Museum and local record offices as well as using online resources in the museum, local libraries and at home. The Museum will use its links with Universities and other museums to give participants access to academic specialism. As well as individuals, schools and youth groups will be actively involved in the project, with the Museum’s award winning Education Department providing support.
The museum project is working with other projects such as Durham County Record Office’s ‘Durham at War’ and the North East War Memorials Project. People involved with First World War commemorative initiatives in Staindrop, Bowes, Barnard Castle School and Boldron History Society and numerous individuals have generously allowed us to use their research as part of this project. As part of the project the Museum is keen to build on and develop links with groups in Teesdale to ensure that research results are preserved for the future and are made available widely and easily.