Real stories of men and women in WWI
Amersham Museum curator Emily Toettcher introduces a special exhibition put together to commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War
THE exhibition, entitled simply Amersham at War 1914-1918, explores the stories of the men and women from the town (and the surrounding area) who went to war and the experiences of those left behind.
The exhibition, which features photographs, oral histories, displays of objects and documents, and hands-on activities, wil travel to three different locations over a seven-week period.
From now until Wednesday, October 22, it will be based at St Michael’s Church, 70 Sycamore Road, Amersham on the Hill, HP6 5DR.
From Friday, October 24 until Wednesday, November 5 it will be available at Little Chalfont Library, Cokes Lane, Little Chalfont, HP7 9QA and from Saturday, November 8 until Sunday, November 23, it will be housed in the museum building itself at 49 High Street, Old Amersham, HP7 0DP.
The opening times vary for each venue and further details can be found on the museum’s website at www.amershammuseum.org/WWI.
The exhibition is complemented by a wide range of activities, including talks, walks, craft and research sessions. The next talk in the Amersham at War series will be The Brazils of Amersham at War, presented by Annie Hamilton Pike, this evening (Thursday).
Winifred, George and Sidney Brazil served their country in the Great War. Mercifully, all returned.
Annie, a niece of the ten Brazil children, will share their story and that of their parents and seven siblings left at home to run the family butcher’s shop in the High Street.
The talk will take place in Flint Barn, Flint Barn Court, Church Street, Amersham Old Town. Doors open at 7.30pm and the talk starts at 8pm. For tickets, email ggotch@ btopenworld.com or call 01494 727 409.
There are a number of other events taking place to support the exhibition, with craft, a talk and a research session in Little Chalfont Library once the exhibition moves there on October 24.
November is also packed with events at the museum. This includes a series of guided walks of Amersham Old Town. On three Sundays in November (9, 16 and 23) visitors can discover what life was like for people living in Amersham in 1914 and how families and businesses coped when war broke out.
The walk starts at 2.30pm from the museum and there is no need to book.
For more details go to www. amershammuseum.org/WWI, contact curator Emily Toettcher by email at curator@ amershammuseum.org or call 01494 723700. BIRD watching’s for middle-aged biddies with moustaches. Or so I always thought. Or possibly I am moving into that very category. Whatever, that’s how I spent a sunny Sunday in early October; walking around College Lake, binocs at a jaunty angle, enjoying the bright, autumnal light, picking succulent blackberries, and interrogating (from a distance) the birds on the lake.
BBOWT, our local wildlife conservation charity, runs College Lake; just outside Tring, just inside Buckinghamshire, BBOWT has developed it into one of the foremost locations in Bucks for bird watching. It’s a fantastic facility for humans and nature.
BBOWT runs nature reserves across Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire, and it’s not always easy: dependent on grants and public generosity, long-term survival is never assured. Now, of course, there is a new threat to our wildlife habitats in this area: HS2.
BBOWT is extremely exercised, for good reason, about this proposed development. Whilst it won’t directly affect College Lake, its impact on some other BBOWT reserves, and habitats outside the reserves, will be immeasurable, and permanent.
The stated intent of HS2 is that there should be ‘no net loss to biodiversity’, but many people fear that should it go ahead, it will massively impact local wildlife, and there is concern that the existing environmental analysis significantly underplay this issue.
Whilst BBOWT opposes HS2, it also proposes a way that, should it be built, might mitigate this immense damage.
Its alternative vision of HS2 argues (based on thorough, academic research) that around 15,000 hectares of interlinked wild places could be established along the length of the route, for no net expense, where people could walk, cycle and enjoy nature, ultimately providing a ‘net gain’ for wildlife.
Their report ‘HS2: A vision for large-scale nature restoration along the Proposed Route’ makes the environmental, social and economic case for the Government properly to address the impact of HS2 on wildlife and ecosystems.
Personally, I find it hard to envisage how the impact of HS2 on our wildlife might be reduced to anything like an acceptable level, but at least BBOWT is trying. So you don’t have to set off in pursuit of the hirsute to support BBOWT, you could just become a member. Beards particularly welcome.
Early on during the First World War, recruitment parades were held in Amersham with a great deal of pomp and ceremony. Here, a brass band marches along the High Street
Troops of the King’s Royal Rifles were billeted in Amersham during the first winter of the Great War