Enham Senior Trust Fundraiser Rachael Prest with a bust and photographs of Field Marshal Montgomery - just a few of the Al Alamein artefacts held by the village community
A Hampshire village that played a unique role in the tending of wounded servicemen of two world wars can now tell its story thanks to a £50,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The village of Enham, near Andover in Hampshire, was founded by the Village Centres Council in 1919 to care for and rehabilitate disabled servicemen. Originally intended to be the first of a number of specialist communities where injured servicemen could come for rehabilitation after the War, in the event, Enham was the only such settlement established in the country.
It continued its work into the Second World War and in 1942, it was renamed Enham Alamein, following a gift of £225,000 from Egypt’s Alamein Foundation in gratitude for the Allied victory in North Africa.
The village continues to this day to offer housing, support and employment opportunities to disabled people and Enham is now the leading disabled services organisation in the south of England.
Now this fascinating and little-known history will be brought alive and told to a wider audience thanks to the HLF grant, which will support a community collaboration exploring local heritage and the cataloguing and preservation of valuable documents and artefacts acquired over the years.
“A wealth of local history exists in the memories of residents of Enham Alamein and in the artefacts held here at Enham,” said Rachael Prest, Senior Trust Fundraiser at Enham. “The community is keen to preserve and maintain these to share with a wider audience and benefit future generations.”
Artefacts include the bell from El Alamein Station and four wrought iron gates from the old Alamein Club in Cairo where the British Armed Forces were based during the Second World War. There is also a wealth of archive material including minutes, books, newspaper articles, letters, memos and photographs – some of them dating back to 1916 – which will be preserved and archived by an expert archivist.
More importantly the memories of older residents and veterans who recall the early days of the village will be recorded for posterity.
The Enham Alamein Community Heritage project is due to be completed in 18 months’ time with a living exhibition of the work by volunteers and participants within the community, together with a touring exhibition and curriculum learning pack for the region’s schools.
It is hoped that the exhibition will be displayed at Andover Museum.