Oct 31

Manchester commemorates First World War with special events


A series of free events and exhibitions will take place at Central Library in November, as part of Manchester’s tribute to those who gave their lives in World War I.

Events being held in the build up to Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day include film screenings, poetry readings, live music and family history workshops.

The programme kicks off with a performance of The Curious Incident of the Gurkha Knife (Saturday 1 November, 1:30 – 3:30pm) – a one-woman play investigating the true story of a Gurkha knife which was found on display in a Deansgate shop in 1915 – with action set in Nepal, South Africa, India and Holland.

On Tuesday 4 November (6:30 – 7:30pm), the Imperial War Museum North will present a specially curated selection of local First World War films, including footage of the Manchester Regiment from the infamous Battle of the Somme. Archive films depicting life on the home front in the North West during the conflict will be shown on Thursday 6 November (4:30 – 5:45pm) by the North West Film Archive.

An illustrated talk to help people who are interested in tracing their ancestors who served in the conflict will be given by John Marsden, chairman of the Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society (Thursday 6 November, 6 – 7pm) in the Central Library’s Performance Space. This introduction to tracing your family history will cover the basic online and off-line sources for information about individual soldiers. Three practical sessions will also be run by MLFHS volunteers to help people get to grips with finding their ancestors.

Materials from a rare, newly discovered archive of Military Service Tribunals in Disley and Stockport will be on display in the Archives+ Centre, with a handling session being held daily from Monday – Friday 3-7 November (12:30-1:30pm) and on Tuesday 11 November (12:30 – 1:30pm). Military Service Tribunals were local bodies formed to hear appeals for exemption from conscription into the Armed Forces during the war. The majority of these records, which were unearthed during the refurbishment of Central Library, relate to men who were appealing on the grounds of business or domestic hardship.

The exhibition “Wilfred Owen’s War” is on display now in the Lower Ground Floor exhibition space. Young people from the WOW Zone in Wythenshawe took part in a project funded by the Heritage Lottery and Archives+, encouraging them to discover through poetry what life in the trenches during World War I would have been like. The young people were then encouraged to respond creatively through art, poetry and animated film. This exhibition will be in place until the end of November.

Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Rosa Battle, said: “Central Library has an important role to play in our city’s tribute to the brave Mancunians who took part in World War I. By using the full range of facilities on offer, we can present a fitting programme of performances, exhibitions and interactive events which will help connect people with these profoundly important historical events.”

All events are free, but some require pre-booking. For more information about all the events taking place, visit www.archivesplus.org/events.