Tag Archives: Chelmsford Remembers

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On 9th February RSA Chelmsford Fellows and Civic Society members listened to presentations by Air Vice Marshall Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) and Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes from Anglia Ruskin University’s Veterans and Families Institute. Professor Hacker Hughes is President Designate of the British Psychological Society.

Chelmsford Remembers is a Heritage Lottery funded project on the First World War centenary. The presentations and discussion concerned the mental health of Service personnel involved in conflict.

The speakers compared the support available for soldiers suffering from ‘shell shock’ between 1914 and 1918 and those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) today. The FiMT charity and Anglia Ruskin’s Veterans and Families Institute are engaged in research on the impact of war on veterans and their families. The intention is to develop a ‘curated research hub’ centred on the impact of war on veterans and their families.

This session will assist the Chelmsford Remembers project in showing how the First World War affected the City at the time and in addition, providing some comparison with recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

Image of Malcolm NobleMalcolm Noble FRSA

Project Director

If you are interested in wider research and engagement with this subject the Open University have, through Futurelearn, a new on-line course upcoming.

World War One: Trauma and Memory is delivered by Dr. Annika Mombauer of the OU, in collaboration with the BBC.

‘…you will study the subject of physical and mental trauma, its treatments and its representation. You will focus not only on the trauma experienced by combatants but also the effects of World War 1 on civilian populations’. Source: Open University

The work, for which a Statement of Completion will be available, provides the perfect contextual frame for the sessions created by Chelmsford Remembers.

The course starts on the 25th May, 2015. See more here…

Other articles on conversationsEAST relevant to Chelmsford Remembers:

Essex at War: See more here…

The Great War, the great wrong turn? – See more here…


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As part of the Fellow led Chelmsford Remembers Project there is an upcoming joint meeting of RSA Chelmsford and The Civic Society at Anglia Ruskin University , Chelmsford.

Date: Monday 9th February, 2015 – 5.45pm for 6.00pm start

Venue: Room 001, The Sawyer Building, Anglia Ruskin University.

We are very pleased to announce that our guest speakers for the event  will be Air Vice Marshall Ray Lock CBE, who is Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) and Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes from the Veterans and Families Institute at Anglia Ruskin University.

This event, as part of Chelmsford Remembers, links the centenary commemorations of the First World War to the effects of deployment to war zones today. Other items include…

  • Final report on the Ideas Festival 2014 (IF2014) and the initial consultations on 2015. IF2015 will run from the 18th October 2015 to 1st November inclusive.
  • Update on negotiations on future uses for the Hall Street Marconi Factory.
  • Notifications on upcoming Chelmsford Remembers event with Dr. Paul Rusiecki author of The Impact of Catastrophe – The First World War.

If you are able to attend, do please confirm with Malcolm Noble – (mnoble3211 at yahoo.com), or use our ‘contact us’ panel above and send Malcolm a message directly from this web page.



Essex at War

We wrote recently about how glorious was the summer of 1914 and how those balmy days before the Great War seemed to reach on into the Autumn. (Revisit the article here…). We were lucky enough to be at the 1st World War commemoration event at Hylands House, sponsored by Essex County Council, on the weekend of the 14th September 2014.

The machinery of war in Hylands Park...
The machinery of war in Hylands Park…

The fields of the estate provided a glorious backdrop for families and groups to enjoy the late sunshine, to listen to martial music from a band on the terrace and to enjoy the military re-enactments and be-uniformed attendants, at a variety of regimental stalls scattered like a canvas billet around the great house.

The inside of Hylands House  afforded visitors the chance to meet and greet a variety of historically textured projects from the Essex area. Enjoying views of the landscaped gardens and lawns from the restored windows, of the horse-drawn charabanc and the 574 acre landscape designed by Humphry Repton. Read more about the history of this lovely house here, on the web pages of Chelmsford City Council.

Drawn through the grounds in some style...
Drawn through the grounds in some style…

On the first floor of Hylands House that sunny morning were members of  project called Chelmsford Remembers.

The Heritage Lottery Fund project, led by Fellows of the RSA, is a history project designed to capture ‘…the history and of Chelmsford and its people during The First World War’.

Below you can see what we discovered, at conversationsEAST, about this great project…

Chelmsford Remembers

The project will have a major exhibition in place, generously supported by High Chelmer Shopping Centre, that will feature the work of project volunteers and to enable residents to see the findings of the research…as well as contribute information about their own family members, we hope.

Empire Plaquette image...
With kind thanks to Freddy Slater of the project…

It is intended to to transform the central square of the Centre into a replica trench, with artefacts and displays of Great War material relevant to the area.

The display at the High Chelmer Shopping Centre has a particularly poignant centrepiece. A large Memorial Plaquette, or ‘Dead Man’s Penny’, which was issued to the families of all those service personnel killed as a result of the war.

Tragically, some 1,355,000 placquettes were distributed, consuming some 450 tonnes of bronze in their manufacture. We were lucky to meet with members of the project who gave us permission to use an image of their precious artefact. We thank them.

Would you like to get involved in the Chelmsford Remembers Project? You can.

Buy this book on Amazon.co.uk
Buy this book on Amazon.co.uk

All successful applicants to the project will get a free copy of Dr. Paul Rusiecki’s The Impact of Catastrophe, a book detailing his research into the people of Essex and the impact of war from 1914 to 1920.

You can join the team by making contact with Chelmsford Remembers.

emailIcon4  chelmsfordremembers@gmail.com

The project is looking for ten volunteer researchers who are passionate about uncovering the past of Chelmsford. The project provides free training and support and will also be involved in the forthcoming Ideas Festival.

Talks were given…

In the Pavilion, adjacent to the main house, the day was spent in listening and watching a variety of talks from researchers and authors on the theme of the war in Essex. The event was sponsored by the Essex Records Office and was chaired and the business of the day guided by Malcolm Noble FRSA. (Malcolm is the Chair of the Eastern Region RSA Fellowship).

Malcolm Noble FRSA making a point during the opening talk...
Malcolm Noble FRSA making a point during the opening talk…

We illustrate below two quick samples of the talks, which were well received by the respective audiences. Providing attendees in the Pavilion with access to new information and insights into the The Great War in Essex.

Stylistically different, the programme afforded the interested listener with a wealth of data, images and reflection on this momentous time in the County.

The Lights Go Out in Essex: August 1914

Dr. Paul Rusiecki delivered a short paper to the morning audience around the emergence of war into the summer sunshine of summer 1914.

Paul’s principal thesis was that ‘…war crept up by stealth on the people of Essex’. He cited Dedham Church Choir, so oblivious to the impending storm, that on the day preceding the announcement of hostilities, ‘…the singers took an overnight visit to Cambridge’.

As further evidence of civil society behaving as normal, there was reflection given during the paper to a strike in the County by agricultural harvest workers. There was significant unrest during August of 1914, with police marshalled and shots fired to suppress the protest. This dispute rapidly came to an end as wages were able to rise as a result of war measures to secure food production, we were informed. Ferment was also current in August 1914 with regard to the Irish Home Rule Bill, with all the consequent fears of uprising.

Dr. Rusiecki informs his audience...
Dr. Rusiecki informs his audience…

The local Essex press made no mention of the assassination in Sarajevo, but by the end of August 1914 ‘…the cold hand of realism had fallen on Essex’. The air of unreality had dissipated, we were told. The early battles at Mons had led to an increase in the call for conscription in England.

By May 1915, Dr.Rusiecki enlightened us, attitudes to German and Austrians resident in the County had hardened. A shift in mindset driven by the sinking of the Lusitania, air raids over Southend and the publication of the Bryce Report, which detailed atrocities committed in Belgium during the early stages of the war.

phoneIcon(You can discover an animated film from 1918, about the sinking of the liner Lusitania here…)

A wonderfully lucid and well paced delivery, we thought.

Mobilisation and Land Defences in Essex

Clive Potter, a local county based historian, gave his audience a delightful visual and data festooned presentation. We were offered a variety of county maps, which showed us both the disposition of troops before hostilities and the numerous training grounds across the Essex landscape.

Strong visual presentation from Clive Potter, local historian...
Strong visual presentation from Clive Potter, local historian…

Similarly, Clive was able to reveal the likely landing places for small detachments of ‘enemy’ troops on the Essex coast. These visual elements were supported by notes and the detail from the 1914 UK battle plan, ‘The Land Defense of the United Kingdom (Eastern Region), which gave us detailed exposition on how our defense would be undertaken in the event of invasion.

Detailed maps were offered of inland defenses in the county, including a significant amount of trench works for troops to block advancing enemy forces. This was very enlightening, as we had always, as a ‘lay ‘audience, assumed that trench warfare was the sole remit of mainland European combatants.

Clive completed his image selection with a very interesting range of contemporary images from 1914 of troops in their billets. A strong section was presented on quartering troops under way in Witham and the various early training exercises undertaken in the hinterland of the town.

A refreshing story was told, that made the war in Europe a very local affair. We enjoyed it immensely.

In summary:

The band played on…a perfect backdrop to the activities…

This was a well planned and executed commemorative event for the people of Chelmsford and the county as a whole.

For the projects presented in Hylands House, the talks organised in the Pavilion, as well as the activities in the Park – all created some interest for every visitor.

We understand that nearly a thousand people entered Hylands House to engage with projects and that sixty visitors stayed on for the final talk of the day from Ivor Dallinger on the Stowe Maries Great War Aerodrome.

A great day in the last, lingering days of summer. Thank you.

Images by conversationsEAST, alternative sources as shown







We recently published details of the work of Fellows in Essex and their appearance at the Essex at War event at Hylands House. Their project, Chelmsford Remembers, will be part of this exciting day on Sunday, 14th September. (Revisit it here…)

Below are programme details for the event in full. Displays, re-enactments and research help will be delivered during the day. There will be an impressive range of talks across the day taking place in The Pavilion from 10.30am. (Our RSA Regional Chair, Malcolm Noble, will be officiating we understand…Ed).

Importantly, don’t forget to visit the Chelmsford Remembers RSA team, who will be available all day in the Hanbury Suite of Hylands House.

conversationsEAST will be there on the day, camera and notepad at the ready, so look out for a future, feature length article about the event and Fellow involvement in it.

Full event details below…        (interneticon locate Hylands House here).

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We do hope you will come along and support the Fellow led project at Hylands House. This is a glorious setting for such a wide-ranging event. There’s a lot of history in Essex, some of it researched and supported by Fellows of The RSA.

pdfIcon4  Download the full event programme as a pdf file here


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Essex County Council has arranged a weekend of events for Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th September to commemorate the outbreak of the First World War.

On the Sunday between 10.00 and 16.00 there will be enactments and exhibitions at Hylands Park in Chelmsford.

There will be a conference on the Sunday focused on the impact of war on Essex held in Hylands House lasting from 10.30 until 15.00, Paul Rusiecki, author of The Impact of Catastrophe: The People of Essex And The First World War will be the opening speaker and Malcolm Noble RSA Regional Chair, conference chairman.

The Fellow led Chelmsford Remembers project team will be present in Hylands House.

They will explain to Chelmsford residents and other attendees how the project will unfold over the next two years and the ways in which the general public can contribute. Fellows living anywhere in Essex will be particularly welcome. If you are able to join us even for a short time, please introduce yourself to members of the team.

The team will include Frederick Slater, Project Co-ordinator, Annabel Brown FRSA, from the Young Explorers Group, Mick McDonagh FRSA, Manager of the High Chelmer Shopping Centre, Andrew Begent, Manager of the City War Memorial Website, plus representatives from the Marconi Heritage Group and the Chelmsford Civic Society.

Chelmsford Remembers is a Heritage Lottery Fund project that will tell the story of Chelmsford during the First World War. It is a Chelmsford Civic Society project: partners being Essex Record Office, the RSA supported Changing Chelmsford Ideas Hub, the High Chelmer Shopping Centre and the Essex Chronicle.

Chelmsford city centre display
Shopping Centre display…August 2014

The photograph shows the projects launch at the High Chelmer Shopping Centre for the 4th August centenary date.
Any queries to Malcolm Noble Project Director at mnoble3211@yahoo.com




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News Desk image by Markus Winkler, Creative Commons, Unsplash...