Letters from the Front - Lottery Funding for Narberth Museum

William Bowen Stephens was a resident of Narberth and his letters describe his experiences on the frontline.
William Bowen Stephens was a resident of Narberth and his letters describe his experiences on the frontline.

As a result of a £9,200 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund through their First World War: Then and Now programme, Narberth Museum will research the letters of William Bowen Stephens who shared his experiences on the frontline with friends and family at home in west Wales as part of the Letters from the Front: Learning from the past project.

Jennifer Stewart, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund Wales, said: “This is an extremely interesting project which will not only reflect the First World War experience of this small town but also the same experience felt in towns and villages across Wales during this time.

“The focus on one local hero will bring the reality of the First World War to life for many young people and provide an opportunity for them to understand and appreciate their local history and the sacrifices made by so many.”

Letters from the Front

William Bowen Stephens was a resident of Narberth and his letters describe his experiences on the frontline, his views and opinions about the war and his hopes for the future. His letters, along with a collection of medals, diaries, uniforms and photographs already held by the Museum, will now be displayed in a temporary exhibition and will play a part in wider research undertaken by members of the Museum and through workshops and drop-in sessions where local people can play a part in the project.

Speaking about their plans for the project, Pauline Griffiths, Narberth Museum, said: “William’s letters provide such a personal account of the First World War and combined with all the materials that we have already collected, they will hopefully provide a vivid account of one person’s experience of the war. We also hope that by being able to involve school children and local people in the research that we undertake, they will be able to develop their knowledge of this period in our history by working with first-hand accounts.”

Local Theatre Productions

The project will also involve Narberth Youth Theatre who will bring these letters to life by dramatizing them and contrasting them with a reading of Pink Mist, a drama by Owen Sheers which explores the psychological and physical effects on three young soldiers after their service in Afghanistan.

Welcoming the project, local Assembly Member, Angela Burns, said: “Narberth Museum is an outstanding project and this additional funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund will enable additional artefacts and letters to be explored. It is so important that future generations don’t lose sight of the sacrifices made and endured over a century ago. Their experiences may not be in living memory any longer but projects such as this will play a key role in ensuring that memories and personal accounts of the War are kept alive.”

Notes to editors

This £9,200 grant has been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to Narberth Museum.

In Wales HLF has invested over £284million and supported over 2,162 projects in local communities all over the country. Follow us on Twitter: @HLFCymru.

Plans for the project include:

  • Researching the collection of letters and documents written by local soldiers whose names appear on war memorials in and around the town. The museum also holds a collection of medals, diaries, uniforms, photographs and newspaper reports relating to the First World War
  • Workshops and drop in session will be organised for local people to research material held by the Museum. As a result, it is hoped to identify people and locations in the museum's collection of First World War photographs. Stories and memories related to this material will also be recorded
  • Working with the local youth theatre, a dramatic performance will be produced in conjunction with the local community. The performance will also be recorded and offered as an educational resource to local secondary schools
  • A temporary exhibition will be produced utilising the material collected and collated through the project. A teachers' pack to accompany the exhibition will be produced by the museum's Learning Officer
  • The project will be document on the museum's website and social media will be used to raise awareness of progress.

Further information

Naomi Williams, 02920 442 020, email: naomi@positifgroup.co.uk.