Exhibitions Remembering the Great War

Queensferry History Group has presented two major exhibitions relating to World War I.

In 2013 Queensferry History Group, like many other community Groups throughout the country, was aware the time was approaching to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. In our area the communities of Dalmeny and Queensferry lost significant numbers of men to the conflict.

A shot of some of the displays in our first exhibition.

Their names are listed on the two war memorials which most local people pass each day.

As a tribute to these men, Queensferry History Group spent the next five years researching the names on both memorials. As a result of this work we discovered not only the stories of the lives behind the names but also the impact the war had on the people living in both communities.

In 1914 they were much smaller places than the ones we see today. In Dalmeny, the rows of houses where the shale miners lived have long gone, replaced now by much more commodious new properties. In Queensferry, the High Street with the narrow closes leading from it was home to the majority of the population. With such a high concentration of people in a comparatively small area, few families were left unaffected by the war.

Dr Mason, a local historian and schoolmaster at the time, described how, at the outbreak of war “the police posted notices calling the men to the colours. Next day the British Forces were mobilised. From the closes and wynds of the Ferry came the Reservists and the members of the Territorial army wheeling their bicycles, all on their way to join their units.”

And so it began.

The men who left Queensferry and Dalmeny to fight for their country would have been well known in their communities – their ages ranging from teenagers to family men in their forties.

Families and friends left waiting back home could only hope and fear in equal measure. This was a world before the internet, TV and mobile phones. Communication at the time was basic and slow. The worst possible news often arrived by the dreaded telegram and in the weeks that followed a heartbreaking collection of personal items such as a watch, a pipe, a wallet and medal ribbons might arrive by post for the grieving family.

During the anxious years of the war the women of both communities undertook whatever jobs were necessary to keep public life functioning. The introduction of conscription in 1916 made the female work force even more vital.

Queensferry At War

In 2016 Queensferry History Group were delighted to be given the opportunity to produce an exhibition at Queensferry Museum. “Queensferry at War” detailed the research the Group had done, focusing on the stories of the men listed on the war memorials and how both communities were affected and changed by the conflict.

This exhibition, which was in place for two years, was very well received by both visitors and local people.

On the strength of this encouraging and positive feedback the Group applied for and succeeded in obtaining Heritage Lottery Funding which enabled us to produce a further exhibition – “Queensferry at War – The Final Chapter and Beyond.”

Some of the comments left in the Visitors’ Book:
“Fantastic” … “Very Memorable” … “Well put together”.

Pictures from the first exhibition

Some of the objects on show.
The exhibition was well received by local people.
Highlighting the Battle of Jutland.

This eye-catching banner was designed to promote the exhibition.

Pictures from the second exhibition

BHC0670: HMS ‘Cardiff ‘ leading the German High Seas Fleet to surrender in the Firth of Forth, 21 November 1918
THE GERMAN NAVY IN THE NORTH SEA, 1914-1918 (Q 87522) German ships in the harbour of Heligoland, October 1918. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205331244
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