ONE of the most momentous days in British history will be commemorated at Tilbury Fort on Monday (4 August) – the 100th anniversary of Britain’s declaration of war.
The event, supported by a £5,500 Heritage Lottery Fund award to Thurrock Council, will mark the First World War’s centenary with a programme of events looking at Thurrock’s role in the Great War with a special focus on the home front and industries.
Among the attractions are the re-creation of a 1914 trench; artillery, firing of an 18-pounder field gun and show-and-tell when not firing; a First World War camp and cookhouse, also with show-and-tell for visitors; a horse and mules display; knitting comforts for the troops; a pharmacy; a 1914 allotment garden; an armoury with small arms and rifles of the Great War; and an artificers’ workshop – carpentry and metal work.
There will also be a strong focus being on local women and how they were employed. Thurrock Local History Society, the Tilbury Riverside Project and volunteers will be on hand to record and collect memorabilia, and passed down family tales to help build a clear picture of what life was like in Thurrock at the time enabling local people to raise awareness and engage with the wider community to learn about and preserve the memories and heritage of those who lived through the war.
Cllr Richard Speight, portfolio holder for communities and chair of the Great War Committee, said: “There are very few people alive today who were born in 1914, but it is important we do all we can to make sure memories of that time are not lost and we ensure the lessons of that horrific time are not forgotten.
“I would like to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for its generous contribution and I would urge as many people as possible to come along to the fort for the day.”
He added: “Tilbury Fort was one of the major Thames defences, manned with costal guns and was the site of anti-aircraft armaments for combating Zeppelins and bombers.
“But it is also an important part of Thurrock’s history going back even further. On Monday it will be open and free to visit.”
The aim of the collection of memorabilia and memories is for it to be digitally recorded and to create an on-line interactive archive where everyone can access and contribute information. The archive will allow the public to discuss, contribute, share and research information about the Home Front.
Explaining the importance of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s support, Robyn Llewellyn – Head of Heritage Lottery Fund, East of England said: “The impact of the First World War was far reaching, touching and shaping every corner of the UK and beyond.
“The Heritage Lottery Fund has already invested more than £15 million in projects large and small that are marking this global centenary.
“With our new small grants programme, we are enabling even more communities like those in Thurrock to explore the continuing legacy of this conflict and help local young people in particular to broaden their understanding of how it has shaped our modern world.”