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Birmingham Museums and the First World War

Birmingham Museums and the First World War

11th February 2014

Birmingham Museums presents a series of enlightening and educational exhibitions and events commemorate the First World War. Discover the integral role the people of Birmingham played in the war efforts and the immense breadth of involvement from diverse community groups in the city

To commemorate the First World War, throughout 2014 and beyond, Birmingham Museums will be hosting a series of events, exhibitions and activities encouraging visitors to discover the vital role the people of Birmingham played in the war efforts. Through displays of artefacts, photos, letters and other personal items, visitors can explore the real stories and memories of those involved in the war. In addition, there will be a programme of adult talks, drama performances and workshops, allowing all ages to remember the vast impact the war had on families in the city.

At Blakesley Hall, a new exhibition ‘Tom, Frank and May’ opens 12 April 2014. This exhibition introduces visitors to Thomas Merry and his wife Elizabeth who lived in Blakesley Hall from 1901 - 1932. Like many families at the time, the couple’s children (Tom, Frank and May) all played a part in the struggle of the First World War, but in very different ways. Tom joined up with the Army Service Corps (responsible for many of the logistics of the army), Frank was part of the Artists Rifles, and May worked in a military hospital in France. Through video, photographs, medals and letters from the family’s archive, visitors to Blakesley Hall can discover the true effect of the war on one family.

From 14 June 2014, the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter will be displaying ‘An Adaptable Trade’ exhibition, which will include displays of artefacts, posters, photographs and stories about the recruitment of soldiers from the Jewellery Quarter, look the changing role of women in the industry during war years, and the local employment of ex-soldiers disabled through war injuries. In addition, in September 2014, there will be a series of special promenade drama performances in the historic setting of the Smith & Pepper factory, giving visitors a chance to meet war heroes and gain a unique insight into the changing trade of the Jewellery Quarter during the war.

These exhibitions and events at Blakesley Hall and the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter have been made possible thanks to a £10,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

An exhibition entitled ‘Soldier's Stories: Birmingham and the Royal Regiment’ will open at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery 2 August 2014. The exhibition brings together personal items, medals and correspondence belonging to men who fought throughout Europe and further a field in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. In addition, throughout 2014, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery will be holding a series of gallery tours in the Birmingham History Galleries, focussing on Birmingham and the home front, in particular the role of industry, the effect the war had on families in Birmingham, an its legacy on the city.

These events are part of a four year programme, commemorating the centenary.


Image: Frank, Elizabeth and Tom Merry at Blakesley Hall

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