Dorchester and the Great War

Leaving the Somme Trenches 1st or 6th Dorsets

Leaving the Somme Trenches 1st or 6th Dorsets © The Keep Military Museum 2014

Visitors to the Corn Exchange on Friday 8th August 2014 can step back in time to experience what life was like in Dorchester during the Great War.

This year marks the centenary of the beginning of World War One in which over 4,500 Dorset soldiers lost their lives.

The free event has been organised by a consortium of partners including Dorchester Town Council, Dorset Youth Association, Dorset County Museum, The Keep Military Museum, a local historian and Dorchester Rotary Club. Any money raised will go to The Rifles “Care for Casualties” appeal.

The Mayor will open the event at 10:00am and at 10:30am Dorset Youth Association will launch the ‘Walking in their Shoes’ First World War Interactive History trail funded by a grant of £28,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

1st Battalion Dorsets manning Trench 38 Hill 60 - Ypres Spring 1915.

1st Battalion Dorsets manning Trench 38 Hill 60 – Ypres Spring 1915. Soldier making a makeshift periscope to view German Trench © The Keep Military Museum 2014

There will be talks by local historian Brian Bates and Curator at the Keep Military Museum, Chris Copson.

“It is important to commemorate the sacrifice and the achievement of British soldiers in the war.”

“It was a war of ordinary people achieving extraordinary things.”

“If what we are doing gives people a more accurate idea of what the war was like, that’s very important,” says Chris.

Visitors will even be able to dress up in Tommy Uniform, listen to a performance of World War One songs and try some rationed WW1 stew and cake. Bring any WW1 memorabilia to be identified by an expert and share your WW1 family history stories at the listening post. Children can take part in a trench art workshop and have a go at geocaching along the ‘Walking in their Shoes’ trail. The Durnovaria Silver Band will round up the day with a performance at 3:00pm before doors close at 7:00pm.

For further information please contact Steve Newman on 01305 266861 or email s.newman@dorchester-tc.gov.uk.

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Summer Offer links two Dorchester Museums

The KeepSave money on joint visits to both Dorset County Museum and The Keep Military Museum during summer 2014.

Dorchester’s two traditional Museums are combining their forces in a special money-off deal for visitors to the county town.

From Saturday 24th May until Saturday 30th August 2014, a visit to either Dorset County Museum or The Keep Military Museum will automatically give visitors £1.50 off the adult price for the other museum.

This offer is a brand new initiative in an ongoing series of joint activities between the two museums which will also include a new range of learning opportunities for schools and other interested groups.

“We have wanted to run a joint entry deal for a while now, and this summer seemed the perfect time to do it.” said Jon Murden of Dorset County Museum. “Visitors will simply retain their first till receipt or voucher to receive a money-off deal in the second museum they visit – both visits will have to be made between 24 May and 30 August to qualify.”

Chris Copson, Curator of The Keep Military Museum said, “We want people to feel that they can justify visiting more than just one of the museums in Dorchester. If this offer results in more people finding out about the military and general history of Dorchester and the surrounding areas we will be very happy.”

Dorset County Museum’s Rachel Cole explains how both museums are also linking together with a World War I theme in the summer. “We are running an important exhibition, A Dorset Woman at War, from 31st May and The Keep will be opening a brand new Trench display in a few weeks. As our museums are just a few minutes’ walk apart, we want to encourage visitors to visit and benefit from not just one, but both of these important experiences.”

With visitors anticipated to be particularly interested in attractions with a First World War theme this summer, both Museums feel that this is the perfect time for such a collaboration.