A century after servicemen passed through Peterborough on their way to and from war, their stories will be re-told to travellers in the city.
The next step in a very exciting project will be launched at Peterborough Train Station as information found in two visitors’ books from Peterborough’s East Station in 1916 and 1917 is set to be released in real-time, 100 years to the day that each serviceman passed through the city.
The biographical information will be published on the project website, via social media and on a digital screen at Peterborough Station where commuters will be able to find out more about the men who signed the books.
The two slim volumes contain over 580 entries from servicemen who visited a tea room which was run by the Women’s United Total Abstinence Council (WUTAC).
The men wrote messages of gratitude, poems and drew sketches as they waited for trains to take them to and from the front, to training camps or home on leave.
A dedicated group of volunteers have been busy researching each entry to try and discover what happened to the servicemen before, during and after the war and they are uncovering some fascinating information including stories of gallantry, desertion and being late for parade!
Beverley Jones, Project Officer said, “We are delighted to have traced 21 descendants so far, including several daughters and a son. The excerpts from the books have provided them with a brief insight into their relative’s thoughts and feelings at that time as they relaxed in the tea room.”
The servicemen who signed the books came from across the country, there are also entries from as far away as Australia, Canada and South Africa. There are many regiments and corps represented in the books along with entries from the Royal Navy, the Merchant Navy and two policemen from Warwickshire.
Beverley added: “We would like people to visit the website and search the entries to see if they recognise a name and if so, to get in touch. We are particularly keen to receive photographs and further details to add to our research to help tell the stories of the men.”
Jodie Slater, Station Manager, explained “We are pleased we have this great opportunity to support the project in the local community. It’s a great piece of Peterborough’s history and we are delighted we can be a part of it.”
The research will be brought together for a final exhibition to be held at Peterborough Museum in the spring of 2018. The project will have other elements including special events, a touring display and the development of associated materials and sessions for schools.