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Gillingham Museum Montage

Accredited Museum Arts Council England

Dorset Museums Association

Bourton WW1 Exhibition at Museum

Bourton’s fascinating First World War exhibition continues to move round the north Dorset area. Titled ‘Bourton 1914-18’, it has already been on show at Bourton and Stourton, and now moves to the museum at Gillingham for a time. The exhibition tells the stories of Bourton people and of how their lives were affected by the war. On the day war was declared, 4th August 1914, the villagers of Bourton and Silton were at the village fete on Furzehill Common. The men who were already reservists went home, put on their uniforms and left that night on the ten o’clock train from Gillingham. By the time the war was over, some of these people were dead, local women had worked on munitions in the foundry, school children had learned to grow food, and the village had been devastated by an unprecedented flood. The stories of individual people, many illustrated with photographs and old postcards from the time, make up a fascinating exhibition. The lives of real people jump off the boards from the memories, letters and news reports of the day. They include not just soldiers who never returned, but also villagers, including women who made the munitions in the foundry. The stories of the foundry workers and the great flood of 28th June 1917 have already been told in the remarkable community play On Them Our Lives Depend, by Sue Ashby and Tony Benge, who have put the exhibition and its booklet together. The Bourton First World War project had funding from the Heritage Lottery, Bourton Parish Council and the Dorset Rural Art Fund. In our Museum, the Bourton displays are complemented by a display of Bourton material drawn from the Museum’s own resources. The exhibition can be viewed in the Gillingham Museum at any time during normal opening hours.