A War Story a day from Brighton Museums

During 2014, Brighton & Hove's Royal Pavilion and Museums will mark the centenary of the First World War by posting a story a day (Mon-Fri) about the conflict.

Most of these will be taken from our collections and the work we are doing behind the scenes to commemorate the anniversary. We will also post links to other work going on in the city, and resources that may be useful.

All these stories will hopefully tell you a little about the war, what it meant to Brighton & Hove, and what we can learn from it today.

Sep 2

brightonmuseums:

The Dr Brighton seafront display has now finished, we hope you managed to see it. We’d like to thank the following for their help with the display,

Southdown Construction (Metalwork) Limited for building and maintaining the structure;

John Round and Jenny Arran for Graphic Design;

Format Display Limited for printing and vinyl covering.


Sep 1
Oppenheimer Diamond Works, 1922
These large buildings in Coombe Road can still be seen today, and may be more familiar as part of the Big Yellow Storage facility. The buildings were originally constructed during the First World War, as the Oppenheimer Diamond Works.
The factory was set up by Bernard Oppenheimer, a South African diamond merchant. Established in May 1918, its workers were injured and disabled ex-soldiers who were trained to cut and polish diamonds.
The hospital was widely praised for its role in providing jobs to men who had been seriously wounded in the war, and both the Prince of Wales and Field Marshal Haig came to see the help it gave to former soldiers.
Unfortunately, the business did not prove commercially successful, and it went into receivership in 1924.
You can learn more about the factory and other First World War sites in Brighton & Hove on our free Story Drop smartphone app.
Photograph courtesy of the James Gray collection / The Regency Society

Oppenheimer Diamond Works, 1922

These large buildings in Coombe Road can still be seen today, and may be more familiar as part of the Big Yellow Storage facility. The buildings were originally constructed during the First World War, as the Oppenheimer Diamond Works.

The factory was set up by Bernard Oppenheimer, a South African diamond merchant. Established in May 1918, its workers were injured and disabled ex-soldiers who were trained to cut and polish diamonds.

The hospital was widely praised for its role in providing jobs to men who had been seriously wounded in the war, and both the Prince of Wales and Field Marshal Haig came to see the help it gave to former soldiers.

Unfortunately, the business did not prove commercially successful, and it went into receivership in 1924.

You can learn more about the factory and other First World War sites in Brighton & Hove on our free Story Drop smartphone app.

Photograph courtesy of the James Gray collection / The Regency Society


Aug 29
brightonmuseums:

Sergeant John Slack drew this cartoon in Staff Nurse Donnelly’s autograph book during his stay at the Pavilion Military Hospital. He was one of the many amputees who were treated at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. The patients were also prepared for civilian life and were able to retrain at Queen Mary’s Workshops so that they could find employment despite their disability.

Before the war John had been a cotton operative in Stockport, but the loss of his right arm prevented him from returning to his previous employment. After his time at the Royal Pavilion, he expressed a desire to study illustration and design when he was discharged. The drawing displays the bittersweet humour of patients at the hospital.

The autograph book is on display at Brighton Museum in the current exhibition ‘War Stories: Voices from the First World War’.

Image reproduced by the kind permission of Mrs Jean Major

brightonmuseums:

Sergeant John Slack drew this cartoon in Staff Nurse Donnelly’s autograph book during his stay at the Pavilion Military Hospital. He was one of the many amputees who were treated at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. The patients were also prepared for civilian life and were able to retrain at Queen Mary’s Workshops so that they could find employment despite their disability.
Before the war John had been a cotton operative in Stockport, but the loss of his right arm prevented him from returning to his previous employment. After his time at the Royal Pavilion, he expressed a desire to study illustration and design when he was discharged. The drawing displays the bittersweet humour of patients at the hospital.
The autograph book is on display at Brighton Museum in the current exhibition ‘War Stories: Voices from the First World War’.
Image reproduced by the kind permission of Mrs Jean Major

Aug 28

Aug 27
A cartoon from the August 1916 edition of the Pavilion Blues. A conscript complains to an old soldier, now acting as a mess orderly, that his ‘tea is cold’. The old soldier tartly responds: ‘Well, you blighter, it’s been waiting two years for you.’
The cartoon refers to the tensions between volunteer soldiers and new conscripts. Conscription had been introduced into Britain for the first time in March of that year. Existing soldiers, many of whom had volunteered back in the early months of the war, may have regarded these forced recruits with a certain amount of contempt. By the summer of 1916, some of these volunteer soldiers had been serving for almost two years.
A PDF of this copy of the Pavilion Blues is available as a free download.

A cartoon from the August 1916 edition of the Pavilion Blues. A conscript complains to an old soldier, now acting as a mess orderly, that his ‘tea is cold’. The old soldier tartly responds: ‘Well, you blighter, it’s been waiting two years for you.’

The cartoon refers to the tensions between volunteer soldiers and new conscripts. Conscription had been introduced into Britain for the first time in March of that year. Existing soldiers, many of whom had volunteered back in the early months of the war, may have regarded these forced recruits with a certain amount of contempt. By the summer of 1916, some of these volunteer soldiers had been serving for almost two years.

A PDF of this copy of the Pavilion Blues is available as a free download.


Aug 26
An acrostic poem from the August 1916 edition of the Pavilion Blues. It finds a gentle way of rhyming ‘nurses’ with ‘curses’.
A PDF of the magazine is available as a free download.

An acrostic poem from the August 1916 edition of the Pavilion Blues. It finds a gentle way of rhyming ‘nurses’ with ‘curses’.

A PDF of the magazine is available as a free download.


Aug 23

Aug 20

Aug 19

Aug 18
Although many recruitment campaigns were organised at a national level, local authorities were also keen to drive recruitment. This poster, produced in September 1914, promotes a mass meeting in The Level. The meeting was preceded by a procession of ‘military forces, public bodies, trades unions, friendly societies and other organisations’. 
The clear aim of the event was to demonstrate that support for the war came from across the political and social spectrum. At the bottom of the poster, the organisers have already proposed a ‘resolution, pledging the meeting to obtain volunteers for Lord Kitchener’s Army’.

Although many recruitment campaigns were organised at a national level, local authorities were also keen to drive recruitment. This poster, produced in September 1914, promotes a mass meeting in The Level. The meeting was preceded by a procession of ‘military forces, public bodies, trades unions, friendly societies and other organisations’. 

The clear aim of the event was to demonstrate that support for the war came from across the political and social spectrum. At the bottom of the poster, the organisers have already proposed a ‘resolution, pledging the meeting to obtain volunteers for Lord Kitchener’s Army’.


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