As the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War approached, Culture Trust, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire, embarked on an ambitious project to link Luton's experience of WWI with the family memories of people who live here today.

Those stories do not have to be strictly military, we are interested in what the ancestors of all today's Lutonians were up to in the years 1914-1919. So for example, if your ancestor worked in a hat factory during WWI, we want to know; if they worked in Scotland making ships, we want to know; if they worked as a Porter in British India we want to know.

WWI was a time when old ideas of what the British Empire was were challenged firmly. Men died on an unimaginable scale, civilians died in bombing raids or during industrial accidents making weapons; rich and poor fought alongside one another, and men and women from across the Empire met for the first time. Class and social boundaries were broken, and women earned the vote as a result of their heroic efforts during the war. We hope that by sharing the stories of people from across Luton, we will see evidence of this change happening, change that gave birth to the modern world we enjoy today.

Luton Culture could have told a story using what is in the collection but, it would have been limited to what the project team found interesting and could miss out on aspects of Luton's diverse communities. Plus we didn’t want to do this alone as the Great War was a shared effort that involved people from across the then Empire, now Commonwealth, fighting and struggling alongside one another. We want to bring a little bit of that spirit back and share the stories of all our ancestors under the banner of commemoration, reconciliation, and shared sacrifice.

Remember, this project will only be as good as what we put into. Please help us tell the story of the WWI experiences of all Luton's communities.

What are we doing?

  • Digitising relevant objects and archives from the museum and library collections.
  • Collecting memories, artefacts and images from Luton people via collection days; and then uploading this content to this site.
  • Allowing people to share their Objects, Events and Stories via Crowd sourcing. You upload what you want to share, from home.
  • Creating stories, teaching resources, talks and events based on the content in this site.
  • Creating a unique insight into Luton's experiences of WWI as told by its people today.
  • Using the stories we collect to tell a very personal story of Luton via an exhibition that will be at Wardown Park Museum Aug-Dec 2014
  • The exhibition will then hopefully tour sites in Luton to share the stories yet further.

Aims of our project

  • To encourage participation and contribution in the project from all communities in Luton.
  • To help people understand the First World War and how it impacted on the residents of Luton.
  • To collect and research material relating to the First World War from Luton residents.
  • To research and preserve resources via a virtual platform, increasing access and awareness.
  • To develop ICT, research, communication and presentation skills of the volunteers.
  • To encourage people to reflect on the impact of the First World War and how it relates to current conflicts and their impact on local communities.

How can you help?

  • Starting in March 2014, collection events will be held around Luton, in libraries, and other venues.
  • You can contribute to these events by picking through your attics, memories, communities, and finding things that relate to WWI.
  • You can simply upload and share your contribution direct through this site, by registering and following the guidance on the Add your own story page.

Things we want to share

  • People's Information
  • Objects from wartime e.g. anything from Books to Bombs (deactivated of course) Watches to Wallets, Postcard to Photographs.
  • Information about events that happened in Luton at the time.
  • Have a look around the site to help you see what is relevant.
  • Anything you find that you feel is relevant to the story of Luton's Great War, as told by the people who live here today.
  • If You're not sure, bring your item to a collecting event (See local press, event details to be posted soon) we help you to identify it, digitise and upload it and share the story it tells.

Contact Us

For further Information Email: greatwar@lutonculture.com

Or write to:

WWI Projects Officer

Wardown Park Museum