Category Archives: Field Trips

Metal-detecting and mini excavation reveal clues about Shoreham Camp

28th March: Garden Investigation
With the generous permission of one of our volunteers we ventured once again into exploring what evidence, if any, of the Camp remains beneath the houses and hills of Shoreham.

Justin Russell from Archaeology South-East and Luke Barber from the Sussex Archaeological Society provided some training for our older volunteers in the techniques of metal-detecting and excavating a small test pit in our volunteer’s garden.

Luke Barber and Justin Russell  testing the metal detectors
Luke Barber (left) and Justin Russell (right) testing the metal detectors.

Justin used 1916 and modern maps along-side aerial photographs to match up  where the garden lay in relation to the where the Camp used to be. This revealed 4 barrack blocks crossing the area; one was now under a modern road, another under the conservatory, one lay across the centre of the lawn and the fourth lay at the very bottom edge of the garden.

We marked out where one barrack block would have crossed the lawn with string. Luke then taught the volunteers the basics of using a metal detector. Given the restricted size and disturbed nature of the ground we treated the whole area as our sample and with respect for the lawn we only searched for non-ferrous material (non-iron) like brass.

Volunteer extracting object found with metal detector.
Volunteer extracting object found with metal detector.

At the bottom of the garden we excavated a small section of the deep-beds. Our hope was to locate a path or drainage associated with the barrack block at the bottom of the garden. However, whilst we discovered plenty of construction materials such as nails and glass we did not find any features.

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Despite the horrendous weather the volunteers soldiered on and we would like to thank them for their hard work and Justin and Luke for their expertise and support.

excavation in rain

May: The Results are in
We have just recently received a full report, kindly produced by Justin Russell, on the objects we uncovered back in March.

In addition to more modern discoveries and even some World War Two materials, a number of the objects were identified as likely from the First World War Camp. These included construction materials such as nails and glass along-side items from everyday life like ceramic crockery and part of a fountain pen. There was even an eyelet from a ground sheet which may well have come from the early tents at the Camp.

Ground-sheet eyelet., March 2015. Courtesy of Justin Russell, Archaeology South-East.
Ground-sheet eyelet., March 2015.
Courtesy of Justin Russell, Archaeology South-East.

Our volunteer whose garden we explored found a very interesting object in the weeks after our excavation; a .303 bullet. Justin explains the bullet shows no signs of having been fired and its unusual, diameter, blunt tip and lack of  cannelure

(the groove around the cylinder of the bullet, to secure it in the cartridge) suggest it was a training/drill round probably of late First World War date.

Comparison of .303 bullets. Left: long tracer bullet, Centre: training/drill round found in garden, Right: regular .303 bullet. Courtesy of Justin Russell Archaeology South-East.

Comparison of .303 bullets. Left: long tracer bullet, Centre: training/drill round found in garden, Right: regular .303 bullet.
Courtesy of Justin Russell Archaeology South-East.

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Investigating the war horses of Shoreham Army Camp

On 26th January we took a trip to the Lightbox, Woking to discover the hidden story of a WW1 horse shoe.

Back in Autumn 2014 a local landowner offered their field up on the downs above Shoreham to the project for a metal detecting search. Students from Worthing College, under the supervision of Archaeology South-East and Sussex Past archaeologists, found WW1 ammunition, nails and buttons. The grandson of the landowner found an old horse shoe.

Farrier Peter Ibbitson, who had already provided expert advice on the Lightbox’s exhibition ‘The Horse at War: 1914 – 1918′, met us at the gallery to look at our finds. And soon the story of the Shoreham Camp horse shoe  was revealed:

Historical images from Worthing Museum include:
Metal toy gun carriage with 5 horses made by W.Britains c1914.
Oil painting of a farm scene by unknown artist, c1880s.
Detail of British Army farrier on roadside in France from ‘War Illustrated’ magazine 12 Dec 1914.
Postcard of 60 pounder gun c1915.

Edited by exhibitions curator Hamish MacGillivray as part of occasional scrapbook style slideshow series about some of the stories from Worthing Museum.

Thanks to Worthing Museum volunteers for photographs and the Lightbox gallery and museum for their advice.

Hunting for photographs at Marlipins Museum

17th Dec 2014: At the end of last year a group of our older volunteers took a day trip to the Marlipins Museum in Shoreham.

The purpose of the trip was to search through the photograph collections held at the museum that feature Shoreham.

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Image courtesy of the Shoreham Herald

The Museum tells the story of Shoreham’s maritime and local history from prehistoric to medieval times. It became a museum shortly after the war in 1923. Find out more about the Museum and its history here: http://sussexpast.co.uk/properties-to-discover/marlipins-museum 

At the Museum our volunteers looked through dozens of folders picking out the pictures that featured Shoreham Army Camp in WW1. They also looked further for ones that showed the soldiers in the town and interacting with the locals.

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Image courtesy of the Shoreham Herald

The collections gave us insights into the camp, its soldiers and their daily activities which we will reveal in our exhibition coming to Worthing Museum on the 25th of April 2015. It will stay in the Museum for four weeks then move to Worthing College.The exhibition will also be visiting Marlipins Museum itself in September 2015.

Many thanks to Emma O’Connor, Museum Officer, and the Sussex Archaeological Society for sharing their collections with us.

Students take their first oral history interviews

Over three weeks at the end of 2014 the Worthing College Creative Media and Production students put the skills they learnt during Roger Kitchen’s Oral History training workshop to good use.

With the support of the Queen Alexandra Hospital Home the students were able to interview 5 men about their experiences of camps, training and everyday life in the military. The men’s experiences extended across the Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy and Army and from service in the Second World War up to the recent campaigns in Afghanistan.

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On 26th November the students had an informal get together with their interviewees, getting to know them and talking about our project without cameras, microphones and the formality of interviews.

On 3rd December two volunteers and the son of a third who all worked at Queen Alexandra hospital Home visited Worthing College. They came prepared with memories and memorabilia to share with the students.

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The following week the students visited Queen Alexandra Hospital Home again where two residents gave their morning to speak to them. Both men had begun their military careers in the Second World War and had a lifetime of experience to share.

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The results of the interviews all feature in the student films to go on show in our exhibition (opening in Worthing Museum on the 25th of April) and on our website (coming soon).

Huge thanks are owed to Ryan, Brian, Neil, Ted and Dixie for sharing their stories and to Jackie Bulmer, Volunteer Officer and her fellow staff at Queen Alexandra Hospital Home for their support of our project. to find out more about the work of the Home visit: www.qahh.org.uk

Researching Edmund Goodchild

6th-7th December:

On Friday 5th December Project Coordinator Gail Mackintosh and a volunteer photographer set off for Bury St Edmunds for the weekend. The aim of the trip was to photograph material to illustrate the life of Edmund Goodchild.ned-1

The above photograph of Edmund Goodchild and further information, including typed up versions of Edmund and his brothers’ letters, are provided by http://goodchilds.org/, courtesy of Henry Finch a nephew of the brothers.

Edmund Goodchild (Ned) and two of his three brothers volunteered for Kitchener’s New Army in 1914. They all wrote hundreds of letters about their time in the Suffolk Regiment both in training and on the Front Line to their mother in Suffolk. Ned was the oldest brother and was sent to Shoreham Army Camp along with younger brother Arthur in September 1914 to be trained. His letters detail his experiences in the camp and offer invaluable insights for our project.

We visited the Suffolk Record Office at Bury St Edmunds to see the original letters and connect with the personal touches – for example when he scribbled ‘Don’t worry yourself, mother’ in the corner of a letter.

Thank you to the Record Office for helping us with our research.

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Our volunteer photographer taking pictures of the original letters at Suffolk Record Office.

Thanks to the Suffolk Regiment Museum (www.suffolkregimentmuseum.co.uk) we were also able to handle and photograph some of Ned’s personal effects.

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Volunteer photographer taking pictures at the Suffolk Regiment Museum of Ned’s personal effects.

Ned sadly did not make it back home from the front line dying in action on 19th December 99 years ago. His personal effects were sent home to his mother and his family gave them to the Regiment Museum. Included were his medals, a flask and a cigarette case.

We will be featuring more about Ned and his brothers in our exhibition next year.

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A peek inside Suffolk Regiment Museum

Many thanks in particular to Gwyn Thomas (Suffolk Regiment Museum Curator) and the Suffolk Regiment Museum volunteers who made out trip enjoyable and passed on helpful insights about Ned and the history of the Suffolk Regiment. Thank you also to Henry Finch for giving us permission to reproduce images and excerpts from the letters.

 

Research at the Keep part two

Tuesday 17th November:

This time 5 of our older volunteers got their turn in visiting the new archive at the Keep, Falmer – the site of the East Sussex Record Office and the University of Sussex Special Collections as well as other local history collections.

Whilst our volunteers, and the project coordinator, have all visited archives before there is always something new to learn.

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Conservator Melissa Williams took us through a guide to paper handling and the principles of conservation for books, photographic prints and photographic plates. For example only using non-ferrous metals (most commonly brass) for paper clips and staples as they don’t degrade.

We followed this by some relaxing map cleaning. Melissa showed us how and why the materials used to clean the maps had changed over time from drafting powder to modern Mars Staedler rubber erasers.

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One of the most exciting events of the day was when Archivist Elizabeth Hughes took us behind the scenes to see where the documents, materials, books, etc. were quarantined then finally deposited in the archive.

The quarantine – a week in a blast freezer at -35 degrees C – kills off any moths or pests that could damage the rest of the collection.

We finished up with a look through the same coroner’s reports the students viewed on September 24th. The older volunteers brought new perspectives to our understanding of these  from their personal experiences and research – e.g. a medical perspective and knowledge of the camp layout.

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Thank you very much to Elizabeth Hughes and Melissa Williams for a thoroughly interesting day at the Keep. Four of our volunteers have even signed up for readers cards in order to visit the archive in their own time for their own research.

 

Students and volunteers put their heads together

Wednesday 5th November :

On Wednesday morning the Worthing College Creative Media Production students visited us at Worthing Museum. We were also joined by four of our older volunteers who joined the project in October as researchers.

The purpose of the day was to introduce WWI items from Worthing Museum’s stores and brainstorm storm ideas for next year.

Gail introduced a selection of posters and postcards from the museum stores that provide context and reveal stories about life outside the camp.

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For example the regular concerts in Worthing performed by Canadians and British regiments many of whom were stationed at Shoreham Camp. The postcards offered images of men at the army camp, satirical cartoons and a few personal messages.

Hamish brought out a delightful collection of toy soldiers made during the war and an original Sussex Regiment uniform. There was also a trench periscope used to peer over the top of a trench out into no man’s land and a training round for use on the rifle ranges.

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The toys included a bell tent. The first recruits who stayed in Shoreham stayed in these type of tents until huts were constructed.

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The students and volunteers had plenty to discuss and were soon putting their heads together. The students focussed on their chosen film topics and our older volunteers offered their advice and insight as experienced researchers.

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We are looking forward to see how the films are shaping up in the New Year. The final films will feature next year in our project exhibition and on a new website. So keep your eyes peeled for upcoming event dates early next year.

 

 

WW1 Living History Workshop

Wednesday 15th October:

  • How do you put puttees on?
  • How heavy is an Enfield rifle?
  • How do you put a Vickers machine gun together?
  • How close were the German trenches to the British soldiers?

These are just a few of the questions answered by Gary Baines and Sharon Penfold from the Friends of Shoreham Fort Living History Team.

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Gary and Sharon arrived at Worthing College on a drizzly Wednesday morning and began decanting an array of original World War One artefacts from their van. They had everything from a selection of uniforms to an entire original Vickers machine gun.

The film and media students were joined by the public service students for an interactive workshop detailing some of the training drills and conditions experienced by British soldiers in the First World War.

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After having a go at putting puttees on correctly the public service students were put through their paces with gun and bayonet drills under the watchful eye of Gary.

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As they practised the film and media students got up close with the original guns, feeling just how heavy some of these weapons were.

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On display at the same time were a range of other weapons and personal items that soldiers carried. There was also a poignant symbol of remembrance made during the war itself. A Death, or Dead Man’s, Penny. This was issued for John Searle a young man from Sussex who joined the army at the age of 14 and was listed missing in action at the age of 15. This penny would have been given to his family in memory of him and recognition of his service.

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After the public service students’ drill passed inspection, three film and media volunteers were challenged to take apart, run with and reassemble the Vickers machine gun in the College tennis courts.

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Everyone was then challenged to try and imagine what it was like doing this in mud, barbed wire and under fire.

Many thanks to Gary and Sharon, their enthusiasm and knowledge really engaged the students and gave them a unique hands-on experience.

Oral History

8th October 2014: Creative Media Production students were visited by Roger Kitchen, accredited trainer for the British Library and Oral History Society. Roger has over 30 years experience in collecting audio and video oral histories. He led a workshop for the students focussed on the processes for taking an oral history, interview skills and top tips on how to film the interviews.

The session began with an introduction to the four golden rules of interviewing:

  1. You only get what you ask for
  2. Be interested
  3. Listen
  4. Respect

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The students will be focussing their interviews on the project’s six research themes; ‘Entertainment and sports’, ‘Romance death and daily life’, ‘War artists’, ‘Morale and mutiny’, ‘The home front: impact on the locals’ and ‘The camp: tents, huts, maps, soldiers’.

So Roger got the students to think about the kinds of questions they would ask. For example for the final theme the students started working on questions about the living conditions; ‘Did you stay in tents or huts?’ and ‘Did you have any personal space?’.

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It was then time to really think about how they would conduct themselves in the interview. How to show interest, how to be a good listener and how to show respect. The students even got to practice following a line of questioning with their classmate:

interviewing student

Roger finished up with some practical tips on setting up the interviews and using video equipment for the best effect.

Many thanks to Roger for his time and expertise. His lessons will soon be put to good use by the students who are interviewing residents of Queen Alexandra Hospital Home.

Secondary Research at The Keep

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24th September 2014: Creative Media Production students visited The Keep, the site of the East Sussex Records Office and the University of Sussex Special Collection as well as other local history collections. The main aim of the visit was for students to learn how to handle delicate paper and photographic artefacts and to learn how to execute searches using the archive’s electronic database and physical facilities.

 

 

 

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Firstly, students learnt how handle paper and photographic documents and learnt about the specific issues involved in caring for and handling delicate artefacts. For instance- all of the older photographic and film based documents are stored at 12 degrees centigrade to prevent spontaneous explosion of the unstable silver nitrate used in pre 1933 film fabrication.demo cleaningjpeg

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We we also introduced to the care of paper documents and all had a go at cleaning up old maps using drafting powder and erasers: very therapeutic work! Many thanks to conservators Mellisa Williams and Donna Edwards for sharing some of their expertise and knowledge.

students listening to Liz

After a short break , archivist Elizabeth Hughes showed the students how to complete online searches and how to access physical documents. the session ended with a tantalising look at some genuine documents from the Slonk Hill Camp, including coroner’s reports, police reports and eye witness statements and maps of the Buckingham Park area.

coroners report

Many thanks to everyone at the Keep and to Hamish McGillivray, curator at  Worthing Museum for organising the visit to the Keep and for helping out on the day.

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