WAR STORIES: Judith Phillips with just some of the items which will be on display in the exhibition
WAR STORIES: Judith Phillips with just some of the items which will be on display in the exhibition

MORE than 3,000 volunteer hours have gone into researching information for an exhibition to be held at The Bowes Museum marking the centenary of the First World War.

To Serve King and Country, which opens on Saturday, October 20, will run for five months and aims to explore the role Teesdale played in the conflict.

During the past five years Judith Phillips, library and archivist at The Bowes Museum, has led a team of volunteer researchers to uncover the stories of men and women of Teesdale whose lives were changed forever by the Great War.

Now Mrs Phillips is busy sorting through the hundreds of loaned objects which will form part of the exhibition.

In addition to a digital Roll of Honour, which lists all of those who signed up and went off to war, the exhibition will feature a range of loaned objects from letters from the front, military posters, embroidered pictures, ceramic ware, uniforms and stories of individuals from the dale.

Mrs Phillips said: “We have six or seven people whose stories we will be focussing on in the exhibition to give a full picture of how people in different areas were affected. Although we would have loved to have more information about everyone, we just simply don’t have the space. But we will be using an app, Smartify, to enable visitors to scan over images with iPads, which will be provided, to allow them to view more information.”

She added the exhibition will feature one Barnard Castle family, who lived in Pearson Terrace, and tell the story of the four siblings who went to the front and what happened to them.

Sam Turner

A map of Teesdale will be placed alongside a world map to indicate where the men and women went off to and where they came from.

Mrs Phillips added: “We know that this is still a work in progress and there are volunteers who are still working on it. The sheer numbers are overwhelming and sometimes records have not survived so all we have is a roll number and surname.”

Throughout the exhibition there will be a range of talks on various subjects and a handling session has been arranged with the DLI. Original artefacts, including shrapnel and guns will be on show and visitors, will be encouraged to get involved.

A dug out will be created to bring it home to visitors the cramped and damp conditions most soldiers endured. A wet felted fortnight will see volunteers knitting socks and hats at the entrance of the exhibition to highlight the role ladies of the dale played in sending “comfort packages” to the front.

Mrs Phillips said: “We have had so many items brought in for the display. People have been so kind with their time and offering pieces to be included."

The exhibition, To Serve King and Country, will be officially opened by Lord Lieutenant Sue Snowdon on Saturday, October 20, and will run until Sunday, March 3.