An inspirational and award winning project commemorating the First World war from Dartmoor’s perspective held a special evening last week to thank everyone who was involved in making it a success.
In 2015, the Dartmoor Life in the First World War project, mounted in partnership with the Dartmoor National Park Authority and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Your Dartmoor Fund, received 50,000 visits in five months to the exhibition at the High Moorland Visitor Centre, Princetown.
The project, which examined how the Great War impacted on Dartmoor families and the contribution made to the war effort, received awards for being the most inspirational and the best overall.
In presenting the prestigious awards to the Dartmoor Trust before an invited audience, John Chambers, Chief Executive of the Archive and Records Association and representing the United Kingdom and Ireland Community Archive and Heritage Group, said: ‘The exhibition and educational website distinguished itself through involving local history societies and developing young people’s interest in Dartmoor’s rich cultural heritage.’
Lt Col (Retd) Tony Clark OBE, Chairman of the Dartmoor Trust, thanked the Community Archive and Heritage Group for the honour bestowed on the Dartmoor Trust. He said: ‘Dartmoor’s local history groups, photo libraries and many individuals, which provided tremendous help, demonstrated yet again that the sum of the whole is greater than the parts.’
He expressed the gratitude of the Dartmoor Trust to Peter Mason from Lustleigh, who had curated the exhibition, Alan Simons of Touchwood Design in Okehampton, who created the panels, Bernard Whitehorn of Bridestowe for devising the educational website and Jess and Jamie Dunbar of Christow, who translated the imaginative ideas into computer speak.
In the 20 years since The Dartmoor Trust was formed, it has made a significant difference to Dartmoor. As an independent and non-political charity, it makes grants for practical projects that benefit Dartmoor, its landscape, archaeology, monuments and buildings, wildlife, recreational facilities and communities.
The Trust has supported over 50 projects, spanning from funding the repair of a church clock to repairing leats, a £10,000 project in conjunction with the National Park Authority.
Tony Clark, said: ‘Access to the Heritage Environment Record, which lists important archaeology, monuments and buildings, through the national system isn’t easy, so we have teamed up with DNPA to link the Trust’s photographs with the detailed descriptions on our Archive website and through the soon to be launched Heritage Trails, which will enable interesting walks to be planned. The connection will enable the public to comment so that errors can be corrected and additional information gathered.’
Starting this year, the Trust is going to sponsor a book a year on various Dartmoor topics such as farming, military, water. Simon Butler, a Trustee from Manaton, has written the first in the series on pubs. Sales of the book will help to replenish the Trust’s funds.
The Archive is undoubtedly the Trust’s most successful project. With 20,000 images and maps, it provides an important record of Dartmoor’s unique moorlands and predominantly farming communities. To provide users with the best experience, it is being re-designed to focus on the images, giving the public the opportunity to comment, adding oral and video imagery and setting up Dartmoor Data to archive documents.
The Worth Collection with 7,500 images is thought to be the last major collection of images of Dartmoor that is not available to the public. The Trustees have pledged £6,500 for the first part of the digitisation and are looking for volunteers to document the fascinating images.
Tony Clark added: ‘The Dartmoor Trust has a lot more to achieve for the good of Dartmoor. The success of the First World War project marks the start of a new phase; Archiving the Worth Collection, making the Heritage Environment Record more accessible, a photographic competition and raising funds to help preserve Dartmoor’s past and secure the future. To carry out our work we are looking for a few more hands on Trustees, and more funds through sponsorship and patrons. We also need volunteers to assist with digitising and adding information to the Archive.’
Bill Hitchins, Chairman of the DNPA, added his congratulations and welcomed the support given by the Trust to projects that safeguard antiquities and to local community projects.
Richard Bayly DL, speaking on behalf of the Lord Lieutenant of Devon, said ‘I applaud the Dartmoor Trust for its support to Dartmoor over the past 20 years. Caring for our cultural heritage, wildlife and communities, and helping young people to understand their importance is vital to the protection of Dartmoor’s wonderful landscape.’
For more information, take a look at www.dartmoortrust.org. If you are interested in helping, please e mail the Dartmoor Trust at firstname.lastname@example.org .