Terror, courage, humour, tragedy...York Castle Museum’s major new exhibition looks at the global scale of the First World War through the eyes of the Yorkshire men and women whose lives changed forever.
Ordinary People, Extraordinary Times
The First World War changed life on all levels – from upheavals in world order to turmoil in everyday family life. Witness the stories unfold of ordinary people living in extraordinary times as you make your way through the exhibition, looking at their possessions and getting to know the people behind the statistics.
Welcome to the Belle Époque
Following the Victorian Industrial Revolution, life all over the continent was changing and York was no exception. It is into this world of peace and prosperity that you will enter in the first part of the exhibition.
See a traditional Punch and Judy show and an original Colibri Car from 1907 set against a mural of York’s Micklegate while you learn about the ruling Royal families of Europe and the tangled web of treaties which brought a staggering 28 countries into war between August and December 1914.
Your Country Needs You!
Half a million men were needed to join Britain’s army and navy and a massive recruitment drive created a frenzy of enthusiasm. It worked – a million had signed up by Christmas.
Step into the recruitment office to experience how soldiers were signed up, look at propaganda artefacts and then climb aboard our 20th century steam engine train to make your way to the Front Line…
Deep in the Trenches….
With exploding bombs and bullets raining overhead you will make your way to the British trench. Discover the brutalities of trench life: trench clubs and knives, a Vickers Machine Gun and, arguably one of the rarest artefacts on display, a sniper dummy head- used to determine the German line of fire.
Drop behind the front line into the communication dugout and a supply area looking at everything from carrier pigeons to disappearing rum supplies...
You must then go “over the top” into no man’s land and experience life in a German Trench; but look out for the British tank towering above your head. Learn how the war was brought to Yorkshire in the War at Sea and War in the air sections and then meet the Yorkshire men who served far beyond the Western
Front in this truly global conflict. Meanwhile you can enter the medical tent to see how injuries were treated, see what life was like on the home front or watch a short film on how humour was used by troops to boost morale when surrounded by horrific conditions.
When the World Changed Forever
The war’s legacy created new opportunities as well as threats and the world map changed forever as new countries were born while empires crumbled. The exhibition will look at the huge changes brought about by the conflict such as the British class system, the rights for women, remembrance, medicine and fashion. Finally, you will be asked for your thoughts on how the conflict shaped our lives today.
The exhibition has been made possible thanks to a £1,167,900 from HLF, with the rest of the project money coming from York Museums Trust funds.