WW1 – THE HOME FRONT IN BROMYARD & DISTRICT
This exhibition concentrates on how Bromyard and District coped at home during WW1. How those left at home were called upon to maintain their domestic and familial roles and to take on a variety of new roles in the workplace, meaning many played a fundamental part in the war effort.
SCHOOLS & CHURCHES
Churches and schools played an active part on the home front. Churches were encouraged to continue with Harvest Festivals and Services of Intercession took place each January from 1915.
In addition to the usual church-related collections, they acted as a hub for contributions to the many war-time charities, through offertories and special services. The women’s groups provided shirts, winter clothing & hospital garments for soldiers as well as knitted items, and even sandbags!
Fund raising had its lighter side in the parishes, organized by local vicars. Lantern lectures on were given and entertainments featuring local singers and short sketches were a popular winter feature in some villages. These events, together with dances and whist drives, helped morale and supported the work of the Red Cross, St. Dunstan’s Fund for Blinded Soldiers and Sailors, among other charities which sprangup as the war continued . Schoolchildren continued to have their school treats, including picnics on the Downs, summer teas and outdoor games, Christmas teas and prize-giving, at the larger houses and estates. They sent gifts to service-men through their schools where Empire day was celebrated with increased patriotism. Children were often an integral part of the local concerts.
WOMEN & FARMING
In Bromyard women were employed in four main areas: agricultural work normally performed by men; in the armaments factory at Rotherwas, Hereford; in nursing and medicine; in charitable works.
On April 1st 1916 The Bromyard News and Record reports on the steady response to appeals for women to join the Land Army and on June 1st 1916 it records an increasing use of women on farms.
By 1917 there was still a demand for women and the Board of Agriculture appealed for women to work in agriculture. If they were experienced they could earn 15 shillings a week.
Sport formed a significant part of life in the early 20th century; increased leisure time and disposable income led to rising levels of attendance at professional matches, whilst at a local level participation in amateur leagues and competitions were an important aspect of social life within the community.
With the outbreak of war so the role of sport changed; although expectations that the war would be ‘over by Christmas’ promoted claims for sport to be maintained, professional competition during the hostilities was deemed inappropriate and unpatriotic and consequently was largely suspended for the duration. Instead authorities exploited the popularity of sport by using it as a recruiting tool, and the health benefits from regular participation as both a source of able servicemen and a form of rehabilitation for those who had been injured.