Retro: Look back at 1916 disaster

A Munitionette talks to visitors about her work on a tour of Kelham Island Museum
A Munitionette talks to visitors about her work on a tour of Kelham Island Museum
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Monday is the 100th anniversary of when the first people to die in a Sheffield air raid lost their lives as a German Zeppelin dropped bombs on the city.

As family history enthusiast David Capewell recounts overleaf, families living in terraced houses were injured and killed in a period of just 15 minutes.

The landlord at the Millowners Arms pub inside Kelham Island Museum on song

The landlord at the Millowners Arms pub inside Kelham Island Museum on song

We’re also looking at an exhibition on the Zeppelin raid and South Yorkshire’s central role in World War One air warfare on pages 8 and 9.

And tomorrow, Kelham Island Museum is offering visitors the first chance to view its new permanent exhibition, the 1916 House, as part of its project called Sheffield 1916 – Steel Steam and Power, which has been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The 1916 Reflections event runs from 11am to 4.45pm and invites visitors to reflect on the Zeppelin raid centenary.

From the cobbled path of the Little Mesters Street, visitors can step into the new 1916 ‘two up, two down’ terrace house, complete with a range and shared backyard.

Visitors to Kelham Island Museum looking at the famous River Don Engine

Visitors to Kelham Island Museum looking at the famous River Don Engine

Interactive and sensory displays take visitors back to 1916 Sheffield to consider what ‘home’ really means.

For the first time at the museum, visitors will be able to take part in a multi-sensory ‘Labyrintheme’ participatory experience to reflect on how the First World War transformed home and work life.

Led by volunteers, visitors will be invited to encounter the exhibits in a new way.

Accompanied by a timeline to guide them through the war years, visitors can experience what life was like in Sheffield through the eyes of residents.

A Munitionette worker with a young visitor at Kelham Island Museum

A Munitionette worker with a young visitor at Kelham Island Museum

Children can discover what it was like growing up through the war years, chalking up a game of hopscotch under the washing line and playing in the communal backyard, complete with an original outside loo.

From here, visitors can stop to reflect on the sounds of the Zeppelin raid overhead and listen to the stories of the bombing survivors and the accounts of those who have come to make Sheffield their home, from First World War Belgian refugees to modern-day refugees, and discover why Sheffield is a City of Sanctuary.

There are living history tours throughout the day led by Munitionettes, as women munitions workers were called.

Visitors can learn more about how traditional women’s roles were transformed though the war years and how work life changed in particular for women and trade unions.

Or join the pub landlord and local folk musicians for songs and stories of the war in the Millowners Arms gallery.

Displays in the new Power House gallery explain about steam power and Sheffield’s role in shipbuilding.

The project was inspired by the River Don Engine, which rolled armour plate for Dreadnought warships that fought in the Battle of Jutland in 1916.

The mighty 12,000hp engine can be seen in steam at 12pm, 2pm and 4pm.

Maria Flude, museum community participation officer, said: “1916 Reflections is all about experiencing something familiar, like home, but interacting with it in a new way.

“We have never delivered a Labyrintheme-style activity before and so are excited how our visitors will engage with the new exhibition.

“This new sensory way of experiencing the museum has helped create new school sessions and is at the forefront of our aim to be an accessible museum, something we are working on in collaboration with our Inclusive Access Forum.

“Volunteers are very much involved in the delivery of these aims and we would like to hear from anyone interested in volunteering or with stories to share.”

n For anyone who’s interested to find out more, a Sheffield Zeppelin Study Group has been set up on Facebook to allow people to share information about the attack.

Local history writer Neil Anderson said: “We believe there’s still a lot more to learn.

“For example, we’re keen to find out more about the pilot who went after the Zeppelin – he flew from what was a small aerodrome now covered by Jordanthorpe housing estate.”

Neil and colleague Richard Godley made an application for Heritage Lottery funding to hold a commemoration of the centenary that was unfortunately unsuccessful but they still hope to get backing for a project.