The Friends of Bentley Station Group, wanted to recognise the part played by local people in World War 1 conflict.
We wished to connect with the local community and show them some of the sacrifices made on their behalf during this war. It is especially important because this year is the 100th Anniversary of the end of the War, Armistice being signed at 11 am. on November 11, 1918.
But how do we find out about these stories? We would have to rely on their families and descendants to tell the tale of the legacy that they left. Thankfully, they did, but where were they collected? Fortunately, help was to come in the shape of the Doncaster Museum who had started a 1914-18 exhibition called Britain at Home and at War.
We were especially grateful that Vicky Sivitar and other people in the team came to a group meeting at St Laurence’s Church, Adwick – le-Street to give a very interesting,absorbing, illustrated talk about local people in the Doncaster area. It was fascinating to see old photographs and real objects from this time. It was brilliant to know that families have been proud and good enough to share their ancestors’ stories.
History is more about people and their own everyday stories not just lists and dates. We began to get a feel for these people who not only went out to fight, but stayed at home to nurse, to man factories, to keep communities going.
To our delight, a few stories from the Bentley area began to emerge. We talked afterwards and meetings at Doncaster Museum were set up. The stories that we wanted to highlight were chosen, and decisions about text and photographs were taken. This was then compiled into a suitable format, headlines for each story thought of and sent to Northern Rail for approval.
This is pioneering work in South Yorkshire, Bentley Station being the first to put forward the idea. An exhibition was to be made and to be fixed at Bentley Railway Station. We are still in contact with Vicky and the team and hope to have displays up at other stations in South Yorkshire.
We are delighted that the display is now in place, one on each platform. But we could only show a small fraction of what is available. In Doncaster Museum on Chequer Road there is a superb exhibition, not only of these times, but of others, and of more aspects of Doncaster’s Heritage.
This has given us more ideas for Bentley Station. We hope that this partnership between the Bentley Community, Northern Rail, and Doncaster Museum will flourish, and that other exhibitions about different aspects of village life may be explored in the future.
We also have a Friends of Bentley Station Community Poster Board at the Station which is regularly updated. We are also indebted to the Community Library in Bentley and Doncaster Tourist Information Centre that have provided us with up to date information about local events, activities and amenities, as well as places where people can meet together or get help in the village.
Tony Smith and Glyn Keeling
Friends of Bentley Station.