A YORKSHIRE town has been given almost £1m to help residents uncover local stories relating to the First World War and the role of a famous infantry regiment.
Doncaster Council has received £926,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to delve into the past with a focus on the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI) which has its own museum in the town.
The Lottery money will also fund a community archaeology dig at a former KOYLI barracks in Doncaster.
The five-year project is called ‘Doncaster 1914-18’ and will be launched on Remembrance weekend, November 9 and 10.
It will see a range of activities and events taking place across the borough aimed at inspiring residents to research their own family history and contribute to a new interactive Doncaster heritage website.
The new website will make more accessible information about the First World War and the KOYLI, which is currently held in council archives. As well as being searchable, the public will also be able to upload their own information. A variety of apps, podcasts and games will eventually be accessible from the website.
Fiona Spiers, of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Yorkshire, said: “We’re delighted to announce our support for this project as the centenary of the First World War approaches. Doncaster Museum holds some fascinating archives exploring the history of the conflict on the Home and Western Fronts – from rationing and Zeppelin raids, to family memories and life in a battalion. This project will enable the community to access them, bring stories to life and contribute to a digital legacy that will preserve a unique insight into the Doncastrian memory of the First World War for generations to come.”
Throughout the project, ‘The Great War on Tour’ will travel around Doncaster holding events where residents can bring their family history information and photographs and learn how to use the online resource.
To support this work there will be travelling exhibitions in libraries and at the Mansion House, with more long-term displays at Doncaster Museum & Art Gallery, the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry Museum, Cusworth Hall and the South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum.
A community archaeology dig is also planned at the old Scarborough Barracks, former home of the 5th Battalion KOYLI, now beneath land belonging to the Church of St Peter-in-Chains
Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster, said: “This is fantastic news for people in Doncaster and we are extremely grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for this generous investment. Doncaster has a rich heritage and it will be interesting to see what we can add to the understanding of it over the course of the five years.
“Supporting our armed forces is a top priority for me and it is important that we remember the sacrifices servicemen and women have made for our freedom. I would encourage everyone in Doncaster to contribute to the Doncaster 1914-18 project.
“Students from local schools and Doncaster College will be getting involved as part of their studies and there will be opportunities for other residents to volunteer with our heritage service, researching stories, digitising collections and posting information online.”