Government and heritage bodies reveal funding programmes for World War I centenary

By Richard Moss | 11 October 2012
a black and white photo of WWI soldiers marching through a town
The momentum building towards the centenary of the First World War stepped up its pace today as Government and national funding organisations revealed a raft of financial packages for Great War related projects between 2014 and 2019.

Prime Minster David Cameron was at Imperial War Museum London to announce government backing for the five-year commemoration, which will see everything from arts and community projects to restoration schemes and a major redevelopment of the Imperial War Museum benefit from public financial support.

New galleries will open at the IWM London in summer 2014 as part of a transformed museum drawing upon the latest historical analysis of the war and enabling the venue to display more of the exceptional collections and tell the stories of those who lived, contributed, fought and died.

The PM said the new galleries would be the “centrepiece of our commemorations for the Centenary of the First World War”.

“I have brought my children here several times and really believe in the importance of what this museum does,” he added, pledging £5 million towards a transformation which will cost £35 million.

The IWM, which was originally established in 1917 to collect and record everybody’s experiences of the Great War, is co-ordinating the national celebrations of the First World War.

Today's news mean it has now secured £27 million towards the total cost of its own rebuilding project, which includes new First World War Galleries, a new atrium at the heart of the museum and the display of iconic objects and exhibits across rising terraces and balconies.

a photo of a battleship moored in a dock
Built in Merseyside in 1914, light cruiser HMS Caroline is the last survivor of the Battle of Jutland.© Courtesy NHMF
After months of uncertainty, another important piece of First World War heritage, Britain’s final remaining World War I warship still afloat, will also benefit after the National Heritage Memorial Fund pledged £1 million to help secure HMS Caroline for the nation.

The money will be used to enable urgent repairs and make a long-term solution possible for the ship which is the last survivor of the Battle of Jutland.

When the war ended, Caroline became a static training ship based in Belfast. Pressed back into service in World War II as a key base for operations to protect the North Atlantic convoys from U-boat attacks, she returned to her role as a static drill ship in Belfast in 1945 until decommissioned in 2011. Experts say the vintage vessel is 80% intact.

Today also saw the Heritage Lottery Fund confirm a further £6 million towards community projects enabling young people to explore, conserve and share local heritage of the First World War.

The funding, which comes from the HLF’s new First World War small grants programme, will provide between £3,000 and £10,000 to local community projects that involve young people aged 11 to 25.

Community schemes confirmed so far include a project looking at the impact of the First World War on life in the Nottinghamshire village of Flintham called Keep the Homes Fires Burning and The Lost Sons of Wall Heath and Kingswinford, which will research the stories local soldiers’ who lost their lives in both World Wars.

At least £1 million will be made available each year for six years. The money comes on the back of £9 million in lottery funds already earmarked for projects, including a £2.5 million conservation programme at the Tank Museum in Dorset.
  • For more information about the five-year programme of cultural activities across the country, including the new First World War Galleries at IWM London in 2014, visit www.1914.org
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