The First World War was a conflict which was not only fought in the battle-torn lands, skies or seas of Flanders, Serbia, Egypt, Italy or Turkey, but also in the factories, kitchens and fields on the home front.
This conference seeks to explore how First World War was experienced in industry, mining, agriculture, shops, pubs and homes of the Midlands.
EVENT: Remembering the WW1 Home Front
DATE: 11 March 2017
TIME: 10am – 3.30pm
LOCATION: Museum of Carpet, Stour Vale Mill, Green Street, Kidderminster DY10 1AZ
When the servicemen went to war other men, women and children were left behind to worry, wait and work in their homes, towns and villages. Bombing, labour crisis, government restrictions and food shortages meant homes were not immune from danger and disruption.
There will also be plenty of opportunity during the day to explore the Museum of Carpet itself, and to view exhibitions and displays of the WW1 Home Front research being carried out by a range of community heritage project teams.
BOOKING DETAILS available on Eventbrite
FULL PROGRAMME: remembering-ww1-home-front_programme-draft
John Martin, Professor of Agrarian History, De Montfort University
Feeding the Population in the First World War: Case Study of Leicestershire
An exploration of how Britain’s extensive pre-war system of pastoral farming was replaced by a direct focus on producing arable crops, especially wheat and potatoes, accompanied by the wartime introduction of locally based initiatives to ration food, which became the precursor of the national food rationing system in 1918. By examining an array of contemporary newspaper and magazine reports from Leicestershire, along with published and oral memoirs, this study will enhance our regional understanding of this crucially neglected aspect of the efforts undertaken to feed the population during the ‘Great War.’
Karen Hunt, Professor Emerita Modern British History, Keele University
Maskery’s bakers, Leek: a window onto the Midlands’ home front
This paper begins with a single image of seven bakery workers, dressed in their work clothes, found amongst the notes prepared by a firm of Leek solicitors to defend conscripted men who sought exemption from military service by appealing to Local Military Service Tribunals. Across each man’s image had been written a statement: ‘Gone – replaced by a female’ or ‘Gone – in Egypt with the colours’ or ‘Reject’. Exploring the stories that sit behind this glimpse of the male workforce of Maskery’s, confectioners and bakers, a long-standing Leek family business, at the outbreak of war, reveals how a firm in a provincial town responded to the challenges and opportunities of the new and unpredictable demands of ‘total war’ and shows how apparently unpromising sources can be used to reconstruct daily life on the Midlands home front.
Dr Sally Dickson, Kidderminster and District Archaeological and Historical Society
Working, Spending and Caring: Kidderminster’s Women in the First World War
Dr Dickson will examine how, as Kidderminster men went to war, local women took on a multiplicity of roles. Many already worked in the town’s carpet industry but their opportunities to earn rapidly expanded. The carpet union allowed women to become weavers; engineering firms, like Castle Motor Company, used female labour to produce armaments; and other women were needed to keep local shops, businesses, food production and infrastructure going.
Postgraduate Students Panel
- Anna Muggeridge University of Worcester – Class, gender and morality in the Tipperary Rooms of Walsall
- Hayley Carter, University of Worcester – ‘You love him but what are you doing for him?’ A woman’s caring war work
- Simon McNeill-Ritchie, University of Cambridge – ‘Free from anxiety, in comfort and in decency’ Maintaining homes fit for heroes in the West Midlands during WW1
Panel on WW1 Home Front community heritage projects including:
- Maureen Spinks, Badsey Local History Society – Ethel Narcisse Sladden of Badsey, organiser, nurse and volunteer: a life through letters
- Susanne Atkin, independent researcher – The wartime work of Lady Deerhurst
- Feckenham WW1 Project – Sweet Power of Song: commemorating the Home Front creatively
- Elise Turner Development Officer, HLF West Midlands – An overview of the impact of HLF-funded WW1 Then & Now activity in the Midlands