Women and World War One exhibition at Chapel Gallery - starts 6 October

The impact of World War One on women's lives is the subject of a poignant new Chapel Gallery exhibition and project to commemorate the end of the 'Great War'.

'Opening the Gates', which also marks 100 years of women having the vote, will focus on stories and characters with strong links to West Lancashire and is planned to run from 6 October 2018 until 19 January 2019.

Set against the backdrop of the First World War, 'Opening the Gates' will show how during the war years ordinary women were thrust into occupations previously only occupied by men and how, ultimately this, combined with Suffrage, led to those women gaining the vote.

This project will illuminate local heritage through archive photographs, letters, newspapers and objects. It brings alive the heritage of local women who had active roles during the First World War, such as those who served abroad as nursing and army auxiliaries, demonstrating their contribution to the war effort, and their bravery.

Archive films from the Imperial War Museum in London will also be shown as part of the exhibition. Heritage talks take place on 12 October, 9 November, 23 November and 8 January. Families with a connection World War One can come along at any time to help experts with their research, or join guided tours on 13 October and 3 November. To book places call 01695 571328 or email chapel.gallery@westlancs.gov.uk.

West Lancashire Borough Council runs the gallery and has secured £10,000 from Heritage Lottery to develop the exhibition in partnership with Edge Hill University and Ormskirk and District Family History Society. The society's archive material of photographs, letters, local newspapers and other documents will be used in the exhibition.

In partnership with the University's Creative Writing department, the gallery will aim to explore the impact of this period of history on women's lives today by commissioning writers to create work that explores the notion, "for better or worse". This will examine the impact the roles West Lancashire women took on during World War One had on their 21st Century counterparts 100 years later.

Local schools can also participate in free tours and education workshops and is planned to run from 6 October 2018 until 19 January 2019. Schools can book by calling 01695 571328 or email chapel.gallery@westlancs.gov.uk.

John Harrison, the Council's Director of Development and Regeneration, said: "This is a very timely exhibition and I would recommend people visit to find out more about the lives of West Lancashire women in World War One.
"Opening the Gates is just one of the ways the Council is honouring the sacrifices made by men and women in the Great War through commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One. For more details please visit World War One."