St George's Relive History
After catching a train from Devonport to Saltash, a day in the classroom was swapped for total immersion in WW1 ahead of the global commemoration of the centenary in August. A visit to Saltash Museum and Elliott’s Grocery Store on Fore Street exposed the pupils to a microcosm of life during the tumultuous war years before they took in the sights of local landmarks and ended off the adventure by dipping into Truly Scrumptious for some old fashioned sugary treats to sweeten the mood.
“The children had a wonderful day building up a picture of what life in the trenches must have been like for soldiers and were given a glimpse into family life during war time Britain,” says Jill Braid, the teacher at St George’s Primary Academy who organised the learning experience for her pupils. “They had so much fun they didn’t even realise they were studying economic, social and political history!” she adds.
When the pupils took their learning outside of the classroom, their time warp began in Saltash Museum and its recreation of a World War trench complete with sound effects of bombs dropping, billowing smoke, flickering candles and housed with corrugated metal, duck boarding, sandbags and a periscope. When the new exhibition: “It will be over by Christmas – Saltash goes to war” was opened in April by the MP for SE Cornwall Sheryll Murray, she was so impressed with it, she gave it a special mention in The House of Commons.
“We’ve made the exhibition as interactive and authentic as possible so that local youngsters can appreciate and imagine what the great war must have been like, how much it differs from modern warfare and how it affected women at home and local agriculture,” says Lizzie Sharpe Asprey, secretary of Saltash Heritage which runs Saltash Museum. Its 3D exhibition aims to encourage visitors from schools to nursing homes to use all their senses with dramatic paintings, personal memories, guns, uniforms, love tokens and trench art made by the troops themselves. “During the day we shared a lot of war time memories through personal and first hand stories. We find these voices from the past, which speak from the heart, touch our younger visitors in a way that history books can’t,” she adds.
The time warp and authenticity of the era was further extended in Elliott’s grocery store for a traditional trading experience. Shelves are stacked with recognisable brands from the past, all in their original packaging and living areas remain untouched to capture a snapshot of family life.
St. George’s is a member of St. Christopher’s Multi-Academy Trust within the Diocese of Exeter. The schools innovative approach helps pupils be the people they were created to be by nurturing, encouraging, inspiring and challenging those of all faiths and none.