During June, the Centre for Cultural Collections was thrilled to support Bury Libraries in delivering two workshops as part of the ‘14-18 Now’ project, ‘Letter to an Unknown Soldier’. The memorial to an Unknown Soldier, which stands on Platform 1 at Paddington Station in London, depicts the soldier reading a letter. Participants of the workshops were encouraged to imagine what the contents of that letter might be and were invited to write one themselves. All of the letters produced in the project will be retained by the National Archive as a modern World War I monument.
The Centre for Cultural Collections were able to enhance the atmospheric experience of the event, making it more personal to Bury and the surrounding area, by using items from collections that are housed in Bury’s archive. The items produced included recruitment posters, extracts from an original Gallipoli diary and newspaper articles. In addition, photographs that were taken and brought back to Bury by a local man were used to illustrate the conditions endured by soldiers.
The workshops were organised by Alison Bond, the Reader Development Librarian for Bury Libraries, and were delivered by the author E.M.Powell (who has also written an account of the workshops). After Elaine facilitated a fascinating discussion about the project, the archived resources and the period of history, all participants went on to produce moving and personal letters to add to the national monument.