Our 15: Remembered Lives
A First World War Archive Exhibition

Sunday 19th April - Friday 8th May 2015 

Sundays 11.30 am - 4.00 pm
Monday - Friday 9.30 am - 12 noon

There’s a new chance to visit a must-see, free exhibition in the heart of Wanstead.
It tells the story of how 15 young men from our community fought and died in the First World War.  

The exhibition will be open, with café serving light refreshments, at the United Reformed Church,
just off Wanstead High Street, between NatWest and former Barclays Banks.

People from far and wide visited the first showing of the exhibition in November 2015.  The exhibition panels told stories of nineteenth century Wanstead and some of its families; above all, the names on the memorial in the Church on Nightingale Lane ‘lived’ again as young men whose stories we know something about.  Many more people are looking forward to coming for their first visit in the Spring and others, like many of us visiting art galleries and museums, would like to look again.

The exhibition re-opened in April because the first two of ‘Our 15’ were killed in April 1915, among the first of the contingent of new recruits who had not been part of the regular army.   Visitors were able to see a display of historic archive photographs showing Wanstead at the turn of the century - a Wanstead that would have been very familiar to Our 15 and their families.  Copies of the newly published booklet to accompany the exhibition is still available.  To maintain and strengthen the almost overwhelming sense of remembrance, reflection and contemplation engendered at the earlier exhibition, there was space to allow visitors to record the names of their loved ones who gave their lives in any theatre of war in the service of their country.  Paper poppies were available to attach to a Wall of Remembrance.

The award of £10,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund made it possible for the church and project partner, Redbridge Museum, to deliver this project.  It has generated a lot of interest and adds to the pool of shared memories which contribute to the sense of community and social cohesion locally.  Such insight to our recent past informs us as we think through the implications of current events.  After ten months, the project by Church Members led by Information Researcher, Margaretha Pollitt Brown, was formally completed in September 2015.  It will become part of the National Archives and, to ensure its long term preservation, will be held at Redbridge Museum and be accessible to researchers.  

New features:
  • Panels of archive photos showing Wanstead at the turn of the century - a Wanstead that would have been familiar to Our 15 and their families.
  • Accompanying booklet
  • Space to allow visitors to the Exhibition to write about their relatives' WW1 Service ... a name and regiment ... or a more personal reflection / meditative experience during  their visit.