Keeping the Home Fires Burning?
Keeping the Home Fires Burning? is the title we've given to our Heritage Lottery Funded project about how Flintham residents coped in World War One (1914-1918).
A number of men and boys left the village to fight in France and some of them did not return; they will be commemorated close to the anniversary of their death. However, we feel that it is just as important to recognise the efforts of the women, the older men and the children who united to form a different kind of fighting force and kept the village together until peace was declared. Or did they? To be honest, when we started our project we had no idea how villagers coped. We had plenty of information and vivid pictures of life in WWII (1939-1945), thanks to the records kept by our village shopkeeper. But Flintham's Home Front in WWI was a bit of a mystery. So we've set out to discover what life was like 100 years ago and to build a picture of the adjustments and sacrifices that villagers had to make while they waited for normality to return.
We divided our project into eleven themes: agriculture (the mainstay and backbone of the village); the village economy (shops and businesses other than farming), education (for all ages), religion (we had a church and two chapels, all anxious for 'business'), population and migration (who lived here and who came and went), food and eating (were there problems obtaining sufficient food without any rationing policy until 1918) social life (what did everyone do when they weren't at work), health and housing (were either or both affected by the war), law and order and gender issues (what problems were caused by the loss of fit young men).
One of the first things we did was to visit The National Archives at Kew to record the details recorded in the 1910 Land Tax Valuation survey. This information, combined with the information in the 1911 Census means that we are able to populate the village and put families into houses. We've used some of this research for our first major activity which was held on the afternoon of Sunday 15 September 2013.
Meet Flintham's Families from 1913
Six families were chosen because they lived in the village in 1913, they represented one or more of our themes, and at least one of their men went to fight. Some returned, some did not. Today's residents took on the role of the various characters for a couple of hours and the families stood outside the house where they lived, ready to chat about life in Flintham in 1913.
A wealth of accurate background information was prepared so that the characters could gossip about their neighbours, moan about the weather and enthuse about the organisations to which they belonged. The facts and figures were found in a range of sources such as the local weekly newspapers and letters and other documents held at the Flintham Museum.
The information gained was also used in the museum's monthly newsletter some of which are attached.