Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Wylye Valley celebrates 100 years with local history society

The AONB was originally approached by this small local history society, a sub-group of the very active Codford Local History Society, as they wanted to work with the AONB to produce materials that helped document the military activity between Longbridge Deverill and Codford circa 1914-1919. 

The Study

Several very good books had already been published about the Codford area at the time of the First World War. The history group wanted to commemorate the centenary of the start of the Great War in 1914, 100 years on in the summer of 2014 and the sudden dramatic social and practical effects this had on the local Wiltshire population.

The arrival of the overwhelming numbers of troops signaled the end of the old peacetime era. Turmoil hit the villages which never resumed their original social posture. This study seeks to reveal the changes that occurred, to uncover the views of the local people, and of the soldiers towards them. All ages are involved and the group has been very active in the support of local school children which will all culminate with a great calendar of events over the period of the Centenary in 2014.

Think about it

The Wiltshire villages involved are: Longbridge Deverill, Sutton Veny, Heytesbury, Corton, Boyton, Upton Lovell and Codford. Many farm horses were requisitioned at harvest time (and young soldiers helped); local men flocked to the colours and left the area; tents were all very fine till the rains came (no floors and floods and mud were the norm). How to organise the feeding (no spoons!), accommodation (not enough tents), medical care (one village doctor), command (scarcely any officers or NCOs), training and a thousand other aspects: this is our topic. We need your help.

Wylye Valley Map extractYour part in it

Please explore their web site which showcases a host of activities occurring in the area during July and August. The showcase will be the weekend of activities on July 26th and 27th where the interpretive display map of 8m x 3m will be on display along with other activities such as a short film, photographs and models.  

How did we go about it?

We are proud to have supported this local group both through SDF funding and through our GIS wizard Harry Bell's expertise who compiled the digitised map along with the help of Emma at Wyvern Heritage, and Richard Broadway.

After relevant 1920's black and white OS digital map tiles were purchased, work began on digitising the location of the camps and associated huts, tents, military hospitals and railways.

In addition to the many hours spent digitising information from paper copies, it was decided that the OS backdrop was a bit bland, and the rivers, roads and woodlands/marsh features were painstakingly coloured in as well.

An extract of the final poster is below. The map info layers are available to anyone upon request (excluding the OS maps). It is interesting to switch from the map in Mapinfo into Google Earth as it really brings the information alive, and if overlaid onto aerial photography some of the features on the ground such as ditches and roads can still be seen.

The final display map is printed on cloth and includes photographs and commentary that demonstrates how the military used this area as a military base with hospitals and training grounds covering iro 20miles square.