Tuesday, 21 April 2015

So, what's all this about?

(Photo by: Colleen Morgan, Creative Commons license: CC BY 2.0)

Breary Banks is a historical archaeological site of profound importance, with a 30 year history of active use spanning from 1903 to 1926. The initial purpose of this site was to accommodate up to 700 itinerant workers, known as 'navvies' and their families, to supply the nearby town with water through the building of local reservoirs. When war broke out in 1914, the entire landscape of this site changed: with the government taking over the land, young, local soldiers were brought in to train for what would be their first and last battle (as part of the Pals Battalion) on the Western Front, the Battle of the Somme on July 1st 1916. After the vast majority of the Battalion was lost in this battle, the landscape and purpose of the site changed once again. From 1917 - 1919, it became a Prisoner of War camp, for German officers, so now Breary Banks was housing those otherwise considered 'the enemy'. Finally, once war was over, the 'navvies' once again returned, but in 1926, this town saw an end to its inspiring life. 

As an undergraduate student studying Heritage Studies at the University of York, my interest is World War One and particularly marking the centenary, so Breary Banks is the perfect place. By creating this blog, I will give a regular account of my experiences on site, giving my own interpretations and thoughts of how communities around Britain rapidly had to adapt to new ways of living--grappling with the effects of war, with changing gender roles, with shell shock, with upheavals to regular routines and an overall world in transition. By producing this blog, alongside an interactive and informative mobile app, I am hoping to engage and portray my findings of the site, making it more accessible to people like you, who are fascinated by our country's military and industrial history. Breary Banks is one of the better preserved sites of the early 20th Century in Britain, so let's take advantage of that and explore! 

If you have any particular queries about this fascinating project, then please contact Dr Sara Perry, the module leader, by email

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