To mark the 100 year anniversary of World War One, Vision – Redbridge Culture & Leisure have hosted a range of events to commemorate the Great War 1914-1918. I went along to Ilford War Memorial Gardens in Newbury park on Saturday, to enjoy the live music, stalls and remnants of the past that all paid tribute to the war.
On approaching the entrance of the memorial gardens, my attention was immediately grabbed by the many Royal British Legion flags that fluttered proudly on the gate posts. They were set against the background of the beautiful gardens that were full of people of all ages, milling around the various exhibitions and performances – I couldn’t wait to join them.
I began my visit by listening to the performance of Miss Kitty Clements who, along with some wonderful singing, assumed the role of someone living in wartime Britain. Stories of conscription and the white feather that would be given to those viewed as ‘cowards’, not fighting in the war, were told. She then read out a letter, typical of those that would have been delivered to the loved ones of those on the front line. The painful truths of the past were brought to life as the heartbreaking words of the soldier who could not even reveal his location were read out.
The next performers were the Red Hot Ukulele Duo who really got the crowd involved by encouraging them to sing along as they played their upbeat renditions of old favourites including ‘Pack Up Your Troubles’ and ‘If You Were The Only Girl In The World.’ Their costumes really replicated the entertainers of the time. After a considerable amount of time spent lounging on the deck chairs and listening to the music, I decided to wander through the gardens and explore the stalls.
There was a wide range of exhibitions on offer from Redbridge museum and library and other heritage groups. My favourite stall was one that provided the opportunity to view pictures from the war in 3D by looking through a stereoscope. It was just another fantastic way that the event made sure the past was brought to present day. I looked through a great variety of photos from soldiers in the trenches to the wartime ambulance services. Understandably, this stall had caught the attention of many children who marvelled at the photos.
Situated towards the back of the gardens is the Memorial Hall that contains the names of the men of Ilford who died during the war. After I scanned the walls with the engraved names, I browsed through the displays that told the history to accompany the names. From the colourful wartime posters encouraging people to join the RAF to the books containing the history of the memorial gardens, I was very impressed at how accessible the events of the past are as they have now shaped our futures in such an iconic way, and we can look back on them with the help of those dedicated to preserving the history.
As I made my way back to the gates, I took a moment to appreciate the very impressive memorial that stands right at the entrance. The tall structure towers over the whole gardens and the statue of the soldier that stands proudly upon it, evokes a great deal of emotion. As I was leaving and the sound of the live music faded away, I noticed another group of people entering the gates, ready to embark on the journey through the past.
See here for more information on First World War in Redbridge
Post Author: Raeesa Mukhtar