Ampthill Armistice100

Ampthill Armistice100

Ampthill Armistice100 is a volunteer-led project to research and remember how the Great War affected Ampthill, and provide a focus for learning and reflection. The project has the support of Ampthill Town Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Building on Tommy’s Footprints (2016) the project delivered from July 2018, leading up to a programme of events in November 2018 which tied in with the national tribute of “Battle’s Over.”
The project engaged with community groups, schools and the business community. The public art and events helped to bring the town together and attract visitors.

Remembrance Sunday 2018
A hundred years ago the people of Ampthill came together with passion and in droves to mark the Armistice Centenary and remember in many ways.
Blessed with sun, Remembrance Sunday started with a huge, parade from the Ampthill Camp Memorial and down past Tommy’s Footprints to The Cenotaph where historian John Hele read out the names of Ampthill’s Fallen. Onwards through the Market Place which was dressed with flags and hundreds of vibrant, knitted poppies for an intimate service in the churchyard at St. Andrew’s where the Revd Canon Michael Trodden presided at his final Remembrance Sunday. In the afternoon there was opportunity to follow Tommy’s Footprints and visit the graves of seven of Ampthill’s Fallen who are buried in a quiet corner of St. Andrew’s. The King’s Arms Garden was open for peace and reflection, and many came to see the thought-provoking works of art.

In the evening Tommy’s Footprints and the Ampthill’s Fallen cross were lit as hundreds gathered in Ampthill Great Park to light the poppy-red beacon as part of Battle’s Over. Bishop Richard read a touching ‘Tribute to the Millions.’ The crowd wend their way into the Market Place where The Ossory Pump poppy installation was beautifully under-lit; a hint of the church bells drifting through.
What a day! Thank you to everyone who made Ampthill Armistice100 their own. We marked the Armistice Centenary with passion and pride, and together we remembered.


Forward look
March 2019: Publish book: Ampthill Armistice100 | Remember

Date TBC: Progress WWI heritage trail + trenching ground project for 2019/21

WWI Guided Walk ~ repeat for Ampthill Rotary, the Inner Wheel & Friends of Ampthill Christmas Lights.
October 2019    AA100 talk for the RBL Bedfordshire Bikers Branch.
November 2019     Ampthill & District Inner Wheel is interested to add to and reinstate poppies in the Market Place.    

Acknowledgments
Ampthill Town Council and the Ampthill Armistice100 Working Group: Cllr Steve Addy (Mayor, AA100 Chair), Cllr Simon Peacock, Cllr Roy Tebbutt, Canon Revd Michael Trodden, Andy Melville, Bob Alexander, Brian Woodward, John Hele, Ron Almond, Mike Gonse, Phil Hines, Phil Nicholson, Sandy Hines, Stephen Hartley and Sue Garner.
Help and support from: Agate House, Alameda Middle School, Ampthill Baptist Church, Ampthill Business Chamber, Ampthill Christmas Tree Festival, Ampthill & District Camera Club, Ampthill & District Inner Wheel, Ampthill Festival, Ampthill Fireplaces, Ampthill Fireworks, Ampthill Micro-Museum, Ampthill Proms, Ampthill Rotary Club, Ampthill Town Band, Ampthill Town Cricket Club, Ampthill Town Football Club, Battle’s Over, BBC Three Counties Radio, Bedford Borough Council, Bedfordshire Police, Bedfordshire & Luton Archive Service, Bishop Richard of Bedford, Cambridge Wines, Dr Elisabeth Slack (Deputy Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire), Flitwick Boy’s Brigade, Flitwick Scouts, Friends’ of Ampthill Great Park, Friends’ of Kings Arms Garden, Jigsaw Club, Kelchner Brewery, Heritage Lottery Fund, Nimy Company Living History Group, Number 14, Parkside Hall, Redborne Upper School & Community College, Royal British Legion Flitwick Branch, Russell Lower School, St. Andrew’s Church, St. Andrew’s Bell Ringers, Stephen Platt, The Burying Party, The Fuddler, The Greensands Trust, The Hub Café, The Oracle, The White Hart, Waitrose, Wrest Park, Zonita Community Cinema.
 
Photography: Benedict Peet, David Knapp, Dennis Simpson, Ken Robinson, Mike Olney, Peter Gibbs, James Marston, Vic Nightingale and Vince Hayes.  

Background
Ampthill was significantly affected by the Great War and in ways that it could never conceive:
•    Local men volunteered and others were later conscripted for active service. This affected families and employment. Three hundred and seventeen Ampthill boys are named on The Roll of Honour. Sixty-seven Ampthill boys did not return and others were wounded. There are seven CWGC WWI graves in St. Andrew’s Churchyard.
•    The Bedfordshire Training Depot was established in Ampthill Great Park and this went on to train 2,235 local men. The uniformed drafts often marched through town. One third of the ‘Ampthill Camp’ volunteers did not return and many more were injured.
•    A trenching ground was created in Steppingley Woods, the remains of which still exist.
•    Three voluntary-aided relief hospitals were set up in Ampthill to support and nurse convalescent soldiers. A V.A.D. Slipper Working Party fabricated woollen items for the frontline.
•    Local people helped to convey the wounded from the hospital trains which arrived at Ampthill Midland Station.
•    Ampthill Railway Tunnel was guarded day and night for fear of espionage.
•    Ampthill Munition Workers supported the war effort.
•    The No.9 ‘Ampthill’ Command Depot was established in Ampthill Great Park to rehabilitate and retrain wounded soldiers. 8,369 men who passed through the Depot. A third of these men returned to the firing line.
•    Secret, emergency plans were made to requisition the National School and convert it for medical use in the case of enemy invasion.
•    The Canadian Forestry Corps, supported by Portuguese labour, occupied Cooper’s Hill (1917-18) and felled the pines in the locality for use as trench posts and pit props. This activity changed the face of that landscape.
•    On Armistice Day flags dressed the town, there was a grand, impromptu military parade through the streets by torch light and the Command Depot drum and fife band played in the Market Place. The bells of St. Andrew’s Church rang out.
•    There was much civic debate about how to remember the Fallen, and four war memorials were erected.

 Ampthill Armistice100 is a volunteer-led project to research and remember how the Great War affected Ampthill, and provide a focus for learning and reflection. The project has the support of Ampthill Town Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. 
Building on Tommy’s Footprints (2016) the project delivered from July 2018, leading up to a programme of events in November 2018 which tied in with the national tribute of “Battle’s Over.”

 

Click here to download the programme of events held in 2018.

Please email Stephen Hartley if you would like to know more about Ampthill Armistice100 or volunteer.