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

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - PEOPLE AND PLACES -

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.amer­sham­mu­

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@ btopen­ 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. amer­sham­mu­, con­tact cu­ra­tor Emily Toettcher by email at cu­ra­tor@ amer­sham­mu­ 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

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