Wartime history project becomes exhibition

Primary school pupils from across East Ayrshire have received a welcome boost to their local history studies of World War One, thanks to a £10,000 award from the Heritage Lottery Fund.


The funding means their project ‘Then and Now’ will be expanded to become an important public exhibition and archive.


It explores the life and times of railway workers at Kilmarnock railway station and how they and their families were affected by the unfolding events of the First World War.


Working with Kilmarnock Station Railway Heritage Trust and supported by pupils in secondary schools, Kilmarnock & District History Group and East Ayrshire Family History Group, the primary school pupils have been piecing together stories from the time.


They examined the changes brought by the outbreak of war, those who left for the front line, voluntarily and through conscription and the effects the war had on the loved ones who were left behind.


Each pupil chose an individual worker and visits to the Burns Monument Centre to make use of ‘Scotland’s People’, a fascinating online archive, formed a key part of the pupils’ research into the individuals they chose.


Based on what they have learned, a major archive and public exhibition of their work will now be opened on Friday 11 November 2016 at Kilmarnock Railway Station to share the stories and the heritage they uncovered.


Stephanie Primrose, Cabinet Member for Skills and Learning said: “Historical research is demanding and similar to putting together a complex jigsaw puzzle.


“Applying the knowledge from research and looking at it in a local context is also daunting, so this has been a great project for pupils to combine their detective and analytical skills with subjects such as history, maths and geography.


“The ‘Then and Now’ project also meets many of the aims of the Curriculum for Excellence, such as developing sustainable community links and I’m delighted the funding will allow the pupils to put their findings on show for public benefit.”


Provost Jim Todd, a keen local historian also visited pupils at Kilmarnock railway station to discuss their research and also help make some of the many poppies that will adorn Kilmarnock Railway Station when the archive and pupil exhibition opens.


He added: “I am extremely impressed with the pupils’ knowledge of Kilmarnock at the time of World War One and was fascinated to hear about the station workers they were researching, some of whom were not much older than them when they went off to fight.”


Annanhill Primary pupil Callum Hart (P7) said “I have liked working with the history groups and have enjoyed learning about the Glasgow and South Western Railway Company.”


Katie Woods from Kilmaurs Primary said: “When I started, I didn’t know much about World War One but now I know a lot more. I have enjoyed making new friends from other schools too.”


“Then and Now” an exploration into the life and times of Kilmarnock Railway Workers during World War One opens at Kilmarnock Railway Station on Friday 11 November 2016.


Admission is free.

Posted On

October 20, 2016