Local cultural organisation ‘Portsmouth Poetry’ has been awarded a grant of £10,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund for a project “I Died In Hell” which will commemorate the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele, 1917.
Awarded through HLF’s ‘First World War then and now’ programme, the project will focus on telling the story of Portsmouth people who participated in one of the worst conflicts of the First World War.
The project will research participation by soldiers and civilians from Portsmouth in the battle which claimed over half a million lives. The experiences of local people will be illustrated in a month long exhibition in Portsmouth Cathedral as part of the 2017 Portsmouth Festivities and the results of the research will be shown on the Guildhall Big Screen and preserved in a digital archive.
Following the exhibition, lectures and presentations will be available to local organisations and community groups and a schools project for 11-14 year olds will enable local children to continue the investigation into this important piece of local history.
Soldiers and naval personnel fought in the battle from July to November 1917 in some of the worst conditions experienced in WW1 as members of local regiments including the Hampshire, Sussex and Dorset regiments, the Second ‘Pompey Pals’ brigade and the 63rd Royal Naval Division. Three local men were awarded the Victoria Cross.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a specially commissioned performance [not funded by Heritage Lottery], inspired by the works of Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen and other WW1 poets, in The Cathedral on June 20th which will present the human cost of Passchendaele through words, music and images. The performance is supported by the New Theatre Royal and the University of Portsmouth’s Department of Creative Technology.
Portsmouth Poetry is a mixed arts voluntary organisation which launched during Festivities 2016 to bring performance, educational and community projects based upon poetry in the city and was responsible for performances by Sam Cox the city’s poet laureate and the iconic John Cooper Clarke.
The Passchendaele project is supported by the Festivities, Portsmouth Cathedral and the New Theatre Royal. The research investigation by local archivist Donna Bish is aided by the Gateways to the First World War at the University of Portsmouth, the Pompey Pals Project and Alan Lashley of Portsmouth WW1 Research.
Commenting on the award, Josh Brown, Chair of Portsmouth Poetry said: “The enormous contribution to Passchendaele made by the people of Portsmouth and the suffering they endured is an important part of the city’s and our own history. We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund in helping us to make these experiences known and preserving this heritage for the future”.
Black outline of soldiers (C) IWM (Q3014A)
About Portsmouth Poetry
Portsmouth Poetry is a project to promote mixed-arts events and activities in the city. A non-profit body, its mission is to work in partnership with other venues and organisations in art, theatre, music and education to provide performances and community and educational projects drawing on a broad spectrum of expertise. The supporting slogan “From A Borrowed Biro” reflects the way in which we all ‘use’ the words of poets at key points in our lives and is adapted from a lyric by the poet, author and broadcaster Clive James who has endorsed its use.
Heritage Lottery Fund and support for First World War heritage
• Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported.
• To date, £82million in HLF grants has been awarded to projects across the UK so they can mark the Centenary and explore all aspects of First World War heritage that matters to them. Through its First World War: then and now programme, HLF is making at least £1million available per year for six years until 2019. It is providing grants between £3,000 and £10,000 enabling communities and groups right across the UK to explore, conserve and share their First World War heritage and deepen their understanding of the impact of the conflict. To find out how to apply for funding visit www.hlf.org.uk/thenandnow If a group needs a grant of more than £10,000 for a First World War project, it can apply to HLF through its open programmes www.hlf.org.uk/firstworldwar
• To join the conversation on social media please use #understandingww1
For further information, images and interviews please contact Josh Brown, Chairman at Portsmouth Poetry on 07738706605 or portsmouthpoetry@hotmail or visit the website www.portsmouthpoetry.co.uk