The Herts at War exhibition first opened to the public on 4th August 2014, 100 years to the day since the outbreak of the Great War. Our HLF funded project was designed and produced with our project partners at Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation and Bonfire Ltd. The exhibition as a whole was designed two work in two halves. The first is a general exhibition detailing many of the fascinating and unique aspects of the county's wartime history which are as applicable as Hitchin and they are in Hoddesdon. Themes explored in this section range from Conscientious Objection to Zeppelin Raids and the role of VAD hospitals and Women during the conflict.
Secondly we have developed a system whereby the exhibition reflects the local story of the area that we are sited at that time. From August 2014 to August 2015 half of the exhibition focussed on the story of Letchworth Garden City as a town and particularly focussed on the 143 men from Letchworth that went to war and did not return.
The exhibition also features the most detailed display and resource centre relating to the Hertfordshire Regiment in existence. With a physical display and stunning personal collections, visitors are able to understand the basic story of the Regiment throughout four years fighting on the Western Front. For those with a deeper interest we also house an archive of tens of thousands of documents, photographs and newspaper articles relating to the Regiment and 7000+ men that fought within its ranks.
Launched on the 4th August 2014 and resident for one year, the Herts at War Letchworth exhibition saw incredible success with upwards of 10,000 visitors through our doors. In the course of the Letchworth phase we shared over a dozen local stories in national media, digitised thousands of documents and undertook upwards of 500 personal research projects for visitors wishing to find out about their own family's wartime history. The exhibition itself was spread over two floors and displayed hundreds of artefacts, a cinema room, dedicated research area as well as running regular events, visits for schools and groups and research sessions with our dedicated volunteer team.
The success of the project in Letchworth was such that the exhibition team were invited in 2015 to represent HLF projects at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster at a special event to mark the good work done UK wide throughout the centenary. Further indicating the success of the exhibition was Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation's decision to continue to use the space as a permanent museum after our residency.
On 9th September 2015 we were delighted to be able to re-launch the exhibition in our new location in Sawbridgeworth. The exhibition features displays on Hertfordshire throughout the war and also has a focus on the wartime story of the area around Sawbridgeworth. Working with the team at Sawbridgeworth Town Council we have been very pleased to also create a brand-new First World War trench system which has proved incredibly popular with our visitors.
Since launching in September 2015 we have received hundreds of school groups at the exhibition for personalised tours relating to the county and local area during the Great War - a big part of our aims of inspiring younger generations about the subject.
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