East Belfast & The Great War has received £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a two-year project to digitally record and share East Belfast’s First World War heritage. Awarded through the HLF’s First World War: then and now programme, the project will aim to compile an online database containing the details of every serviceman and woman from East Belfast who served in the First World War.
The five project volunteers have identified a range of sources – including over 190 months’ worth of archived material from local newspapers – which will be consulted over coming months to bring the database together. The completed database will be available online and will be free to access. Commenting on the project’s plans, project co-ordinator Jason Burke said,
“We have certainly got our work cut out for us. We will be very busy consulting a number of sources over the next two years across Northern Ireland, Ireland and Great Britain, including service and pensions records. We are aiming to build what we hope will be the most comprehensive public record of East Belfast’s contribution to the First World War. We think the numbers of men and women that served will run in to the thousands. We are very grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for their support.”
Another key aim of the project is to broaden community engagement with and understanding of East Belfast’s First World War heritage. Commenting on working with the local community, project volunteer Jonathan Evershed said,
“We are aiming to create a digital catalogue of artefacts – including diaries, letters and photographs – which tell the very human story of the Great War across East Belfast. These artefacts and the stories behind them will be shared on our website: www.EastBelfastWW1.com. We will be encouraging people to come forward to share their families’ stories of the Great War with us.”
Explaining the importance of the project for heritage in East Belfast Mark Glover, Heritage Lottery Fund NI Committee Member commented, “HLF was delighted to fund this FWW project which seeks to explore and share not only the FWW stories of individual men and women from East Belfast but also delves into the legacy of the FWW on the local community. Across the UK HLF has awarded more than £4million to 500 community projects through our dedicated First World War: then and now programme. The FWW had a lasting impact on communities across the UK and we have been astounded at the sheer breadth of stories people have been uncovering. East Belfast and the Great War project will not only enrich the local understanding of the FWW but will add East Belfast stories into the UK’s collective understanding of FWW.”
About East Belfast & The Great War
Bringing together experienced researchers and historians on a voluntary basis, East Belfast & The Great War’s principle objective is to facilitate its members in pursuing collaborative historical research with a view to developing awareness and understanding of the social and political history of the First World War within East Belfast.
East Belfast & The Great War currently consists of five volunteers, each with a background in historical or social research. The primary activities currently being undertaken by the members of the group correspond to fulfilling the two strands of the East Belfast & The Great War project.
The first core activity is archival research, with a view to compiling both an accessible on-line database of all those from East Belfast who served in the First World War. This research is done on voluntary basis.
The second core activity involves engaging with members of the community to both gather and share information. To this end, members of the group are involved in developing relationships with community organisations in East Belfast to develop and deliver community workshops.
About the Heritage Lottery Fund
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported over 1000 projects with more than £192M across Northern Ireland. www.hlf.org.uk. Twitter @HLFNI #understanding WW1