Back in May 2016 I appealed to constituents and local groups to consider applying to the Heritage Lottery Fund for community projects to learn more about the First World War. The Heritage Lottery Fund announced that they were making money available as part of the ‘First World War: then and now’ programme for small, community grants. This was to encourage local communities interested in marking the Centenary of the First World War to learn more about how the First World War affected the local area and the impact it had on communities.
Through this programme East Ayrshire Council Education Services has come together with the Kilmarnock Station Railway Heritage Trust and applied successfully for a grant of £10,000 for their project ‘Kilmarnock Railway Station – World War 1 Stories’.
I was delighted to be visited by Graham Boyd, Heritage Projects Coordinator East Ayrshire Council along with Sixth Year pupils from St Joseph’s Academy, Ann McGiffen and Ava Hepburn to find out more about the project.
Pupils from local primary schools and St Joseph’s Academy have been researching and developing an archive on a number of Kilmarnock Railway Station workers, employed by the Glasgow & South Western Railway Company and other nearby railway works, who volunteered or were enlisted to serve at The Front during World War 1.
The pupils want to build a picture of what the town was like before WW1 and the changes brought about due to the outbreak of war. Their research is uncovering many fascinating and largely untold stories both with a local and international dimension. In order to share this forgotten heritage with the public, the pupils along with many community groups associated with the Station Village are planning to host a display of the archive along with a service dedicated to the memory of these workers.
I have always been interested in WWI and I think this project combining social history along with consideration of some locals involved in the war is a fantastic way to get a wider understanding of what life really was like. I commend them for their efforts and look forward to the displays.