PETERBOROUGH & THE GREAT WAR
Did you have an ancestor who served in the First World War and could have travelled through Peterborough by train in 1916 or 1917? If so they may feature in a project taking place at the moment.
Peterborough used to have two railway stations. The present station was known as Peterborough North and there was also a Peterborough East.
An organisation called the Women’s United Total Abstinence Council ran a coffee and tea wagon in Peterborough city centre to try and keep men away from the pubs. During WW1 they transferred to the railway station to provide refreshments for servicemen travelling through. Visitors were invited to sign a guest book and two of these books, from 1916 and 1917, survive from the East Station.
An award from the Heritage Lottery Fund has enabled these guest books to be digitised, indexed and a website created.
Although mainly soldiers some entries were from sailors and a few women also feature. Some just signed the book, others wrote messages or poems and there are also drawings. The people came from all over the country so this is not just a local project.
The main aim is to find out about the servicemen and record anything that might be known about them so bringing to life the person who wrote in the book. It is interesting generally to browse the entries on the website, reading the messages, seeing the different handwritings and the places people came from.
There is a Project Officer but most of the transcribing and research has been carried out by volunteers. They hope that anyone who recognises a name will be able to provide more information including photographs. They would be delighted to hear from you if one of your ancestors featured in the book.
The website www.peterboroughww1.co.uk has images of the pages, an index of names and any information that they already have about a serviceman. More up to date information is available on social media. It is a fascinating social document and well worth looking through.