The story of 0ur heritage is the story of our...
PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE
PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE was an oral history project undertaken to uncover the hidden stories and memories of WW1 in Downham and Bellingham, South Lewisham.
In mid-2016 we trained six intrepid volunteers - our Heritage Curators - to scour the South of Lewisham and interview residents about their and their families memories and stories from The Great War. Over sixty wartime stories were recorded, ranging from the home front to the frontline. These hidden histories were shared with director Joseph Hancock (Young Vic, Old Vic) and composer Simon Slater (National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company) who created a soundscape mixing the oral testimony with elements of original composition, which you can listen to above. The recordings were also taken into local schools; Athelney, Elfrida and Sedgehill where students created performance pieces based on these historical accounts.
On Wednesday 14th December all the separate elements of this historically and culturally significant project were brought together and showcased at a 1910’s tea dance themed event designed by Jessica Banting (Punchdrunk, Chicester Festival Theatre).
Director and Lead Facilitator
Joe von Malachowski
(From Sedgehill School)
This project was about so much more than the words, music and performance shown above. During our research so many people brought us photos, diaries and memorabilia that had been dug out of boxes and closets. There is no real time to organise it all but here it is, with some of the little treasures seperated out
The DOWNHAM REMINISCENCE GROUP ARCHIVE was rescued by our project. The group, in its original form is now defunct due to lack of funding and, more importantly, the online hosting of its archive could not be renewed. We have pledged to host it here for as long as we can.
One of our interviewees told us when we met her that she had a massive book about the war written by her Grandad that she would bring in when we did the actual interview. When we returned she sheepishly presented us with THE WAR DIARY OF PRIVATE G. DOUGLAS. She was so sorry that it was smaller than she had remembered, and was pretty sure it was rubbish and we would not be interested. How wrong could she be! The tiny diary is an incredible record. From the addresses of comrades, that appear to be crossed off as they are killed, through the score charts for trench bridge games, passed the entries themselves and to the moment where the handwriting drastically changes reflecting the writers injury, it is an irreplaceable and evocative insight into life on the front.
Another of our interviewees was a keen historian of the Bellingham area and through exhaustive research at The Lewisham Archive has put together an incredible HISTORY OF BELLINGHAM IN PAPERS.
And finally all of the photos we took, including pictures of the memorabilia people brought us, is brought together in out PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE IMAGE ARCHIVE. It includes medals, squad photos, maps, news clippings and many, many, many other incredible and individual objects that all help to make up the World War One Heritage of Downham and Bellingham.