Recalling the Great War years

Pictured are Linda Ballingall (founder and chairman of the heritage group), David Brown (exhibition manager) and Nancy Howie  (volunteer).
Pictured are Linda Ballingall (founder and chairman of the heritage group), David Brown (exhibition manager) and Nancy Howie (volunteer).

Glenrothes Heritage Centre hosts its most ambitious project to date

They say the Great War touched every single community across the UK in some way or other and that can be said of the historic towns and villages that surround the town.

People from all walks of life answered the call to serve King and Country, and many never came back.

Now a major new exhibition, which opened in Glenrothes this week, attempts to tell those life, and and often death stories for the very first time.

Trustees and volunteers from Glenrothes and Area Heritage Centre have conducted months of painstaking research and work to produce a fitting, and respectful public display detailing the impact on the region.

And with many artefacts, photographs and military items it provides a fascinating insight into to the lives of our ancestors as the world became consumed by the ravages of conflict.

Linda Ballingall, chairman of the Heritage Group, said much of what is on show is being made public for the very first time.

“We had access to Tullis Russell’s archive from the war years, as well as from a number of other sources, and hopefully we’ve managed to give an insight into what the Great War meant to people in places like Markinch, Leslie, Kinglassie, Star and such like at that time,” explained Linda.

“This has been the biggest undertaking that the Heritage Centre has been involved in - even more so than the Titanic exhibition two years ago, which drew national media attention.”

The display cabinets are brimming with soldiers personal items, medals and other military artefacts that help to give a sense of life on the Western Front and allowing you to make a connection with a war-torn past.

Trustee David Brown has been instrumental in creating the design and lay-out of the exhibition, as well as bringing together as complete a listing as possible of all of those from the region who gave their lives in defence of freedom.

“It’s been a very emotional experience for all of us, hopefully we’ve achieved our aim to remember and highlight the human loss given locally to a world conflict, as well as providing an insight to local life that some may not have previously known about,” David reflects.

And the exhibition has already succeeded in connecting one local family with the war efforts of the past.

Three weeks ago the Gazette publicised an appeal by the Heritage Group for information concerning a Sergeant-Major John Mitchell, a Tullis Russell employee and war hero. Following the call for information, trustees were delighted to be able to track down Mitchell’s granddaughter, who is still living locally.

“It’s things such as that that really make the effort worthwhile,” said David.

“We were delighted to be able to provide a little information about an ancestor to the family.

“World War I touched the lives of a great many people in the region and if we’re able to connect people today with that then the exhibition can be deemed a success.”

The free exhibition is being held at Glenrothes Heritage Centre, Lyon Way, Kingdom Shopping Centre and runs until the end of the year.

A full programme of special events, guest speakers and community engagement opportunities are soon to be announced, making it one of the most impressive and detailed exhibitions ever to be staged in the town.