The Calne War Memorial Project 2014

With the centenary of the First World War in 2014 there is a need, and opportunity, for young people in Calne to connect with this part of their fading local heritage. The Calne War Memorial Project aims to bring back to life the names on our treasured War Memorial. With training in Oral History, pupils from The John Bentley School and St Mary’s School will research names on the memorial and discover who they were in the context of Calne 100 years ago, what happened to them in the Great War and the effect their loss had on Calne during the last 100 years.

The project will be based on gathering information about local men and women from the Calne area who were involved in the war. This will include visiting the War Memorial in Calne and researching the names of people inscribed on it and interviewing their relatives. Having collected this information between February and May, pupils will then be working with a team of Bath Philharmonic’s professional musicians from ‘Music-in-Action’ to turn this information into a musical presentation which will be performed on 12th June at St Mary’s Church, Calne.

The memories recorded at the time of research will be archived at the Calne Heritage Centre and the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre. A filmed recording of the performance will also be archived and made accessible at the centres as well as being uploaded online.

The project is supported by Calne Music and Arts Festival with a generous grant from the National Lottery's Heritage Lottery Fund. Other partners include: The John Bentley School, St Mary’s School and Sue Boddington from the Calne Heritage Centre.





Oral History Training with Dr Craig Fees

10th – 11th February 2014

Over the course of two days, 12 students from St Mary’s and 11 students from John Bentley undertook training with Dr Craig Fees. The training took place at John Bentley School focussed on developing the students’ ability to interview other people and understand the different types of questions they might ask to illicit as much information as possible. Dr Fees played a number of recorded interviews from the Imperial War Museum archive and the children considered what makes a good oral history interview. The students then interviewed each other about a variety of different topics. This proved particularly fruitful as we discovered that one of the student’s great grandparents had survived the holocaust and another had a great grandparent who had been a Nazi officer who had dined with Hitler. The final task for the day was an opportunity for a student to interview both teachers involved. This proved useful as it gave the students the chance to interview an adult as opposed to a peer.


Heritage Centre Interviews

12th February 2014 with students from St Mary's School

Thirteen Year 8 and 9 girls from St Mary’s School Calne, accompanied by Hugh Sutton (Director of Music) and Alta Ridgway (Teacher of Music), spent a fascinating day at the Heritage Centre in Calne on Wednesday 12th February. Not to be defeated by the rain, they began the day huddled around the War Memorial in the grounds of St Mary’s Parish Church to read and write down the names of the brave individuals from Calne who gave their lives during the Great War.


At the Heritage Centre, they were greeted by Mrs Sue Boddington who gave a very informative and helpful talk which helped them understand what had happened in Calne during the First World War. Mrs Boddington had obviously dedicated much time and effort to provide displays of local artefacts, photographs and memorabilia which told the stories of many local people involved in the First World War. However, the most fascinating part of the day for everyone involved was being able to put into practice the interviewing skills learnt with Dr Craig Fees at John Bentley School. The girls were fortunate to not only interview Mrs Boddington to hear her wartime stories of relatives, but also those of local men Mr Andrew Phelps and Mr Gordon Weston. During the afternoon they were delighted to also meet and interview the Mayor Mrs Mercy Baggs. All these stories of real life made for fascinating interviews and as one girl commented afterwards ‘really brought history to life’.

The Launch Party

12th February 2014

The Launch Party, held at the Heritage Centre, went terrifically well with participants, parents, teachers and Festival committee members attending. We kicked off with some brief introductions then handed over to the Mayor who ceremoniously awarded Certificates of Excellence to the participants who had completed their Oral Histories training earlier that week. It was lovely to hear the support and cheers of fellow peers as each one got up to receive their token.

A fantastic array of nibbles and drinks were then devoured whilst we all mingled and chatted about the exciting times ahead on the project. We were amazed to hear some stories from families who had lived in Calne for many years and the connections they have with some of those on the memorial. Parents were thrilled that their children were able to take part in something so creative but with the context of their local heritage. It was very encouraging to hear.

Once the crumbs had been swept away pupils (and some very willing parents) were invited to join in a variety of icebreaking games which went down very well. Some of the awkwardness of meeting new people quickly diminished and we all had a great time laughing together and bonding. It was a wonderful way to bring the community together and we believe most people went away with a good feeling that this project is worthwhile and a unique way of remembering our war dead.

Having also met members of the Music in Action Team, we are now enthusiastically awaiting the next phase of this project when pupils will work with professional musicians to create their own music based around stories of the First World War.


Heritage Centre Interviews

8th May 2014 with students from The John Bentley School

Ten year 8 and 9 students from the John Bentley School visited the Calne Heritage Centre to put into practice the skills learned with Dr Craig Fees from the British Library. The day started off with Sue Boddington from the Calne Heritage Centre beautifully setting the scene of what it must have felt like for the people of Calne who went off to fight and those who stayed at home. The students interviewed Gerry Hynes, Andrew Phelps Gordon Weston and local historian and author of Calne District Soldiers, Richard Broadhead. They shared stories and reminisces of family and friends and Richard was able to share the wealth of knowledge he has accumulated regarding the many men who came from Calne and Wiltshire who went off to fight in the Great War. The students enjoyed the process and all felt that it really brought home to them what it must have been like one hundred years ago.

Creative Workshops

May-June 2014

The stimulus of the research and visiting St Mary’s Parish Church to view the names of so many fallen soldiers on the Calne War Memorial was a very good starting point for the girls when they began the composition process. Students worked with Jason Thornton, Claire King, Charlie Groves, Jo Sercombe and Joe Hamlen on bringing to life the stories they had heard. The workshops started off with a series of fun and engaging musical games and warm ups before all of those taking part shared what the Great War meant to them. The students were then able to watch a television interview with Katie Morter, Katie lost her husband in the war and was interviewed by the BBC in 1964. Watching the interview was a moving experience for all involved and this led on to the students creating some wonderful music. Using the World War song “Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye” as a starting point, this was quickly changed to the minor key version before being broken up and fragments of the melody performed by the singers. Guitars, trumpets and woodwind were added alongside the keyboard and singers to create the first part of the whole piece. Once again singing proved the starting point on the other days. One day they started with the old folk song O waly, waly. This focussed on one of the soldiers from Calne Arthur Edward Angel who had died of dysentery in Mesopotamia in 1917. Using the Phrygian mode the students completed the second part of their composition with a rollicking percussion based finale. Each one of the students said how much they had enjoyed working with the team and it was wonderful to watch them take ownership of their own composition. The Music in Action Team came with a clear agenda and are an extremely professional and effective team of individuals. We were also pleased to include a student from Bath Spa University and a boy on work experience in their team which worked closely with our students.

Final Performances

2.00pm & 6.00pm - Thursday 12th June 2014

Following seven days of creative workshops with a team of Bath Philharmonia’s professional musicians from Music-in-Action, pupils from The John Bentley School and St Mary’s School turned this information into a musical presentation.

On Thursday 12th June musicians from both schools performed in a very evocative concert, in memory of those in Calne who participated in the First World War. The afternoon concert was attended by students from the participating schools, as well as a number of local primary schools. The evening performance was equally well attended with members of the local communities, heads of each school and local councillors.

Through the course of the year the students researched Calne and its involvement in WWI, also conducting interviews with local residents who had family or connections in the war.  Under the direction of Music in Action, the educational branch of the Bath Philharmonic, the research was accumulated into short films, which formed the basis for the concert on Thursday.  Firm foundations were developed during the workshop session. Music in Action led the students in a holistic approach, composing music to be performed alongside the films.  As a result, all the music in the concerts was original and all of it was performed from memory, with many of the ideas and motifs contributed by the students. 


The moods evoked ranged from ethereal vocal singing, describing Calne today compared to how it was in the past, through to very percussive playing describing the trenches, complete with rats and phosphine gas, with a very poignant ending when all the names on the memorial were read out over a beautiful, heart-rending backdrop of music.  The film snippets at the end showed the names of those captured on memorial stones, reminding us all that they were real people with real desires, loves and lives.The final performance was moving, sensitive and showed just how much can be achieved from pupils at Year 8 and Year 9 level when they are required to work to a tight schedule and deliver a high quality performance. 

Part 1


Part 2


Part 3





Music in Action


Bath Philharmonia’s education and participation delivery team (Music in Action) was formed in 2009. Music in Action is a highly experienced group of professional musicians specialising in creating music in an open access environment. The team has worked throughout the UK and Europe, collaborating with numerous festivals, venues, music hubs, schools and other orchestras. Much of their work has brought close relationships with Young Carers organisations in Wiltshire and Bath and North East Somerset and in October 2013 Music in Action performed with Wiltshire Young Carers in the Calne Music and Arts Festival.  The Team is led by Jason Thornton, Music Director of Bath Philharmonia.

The Team
Charlie Groves - Claire King - Jason Thornton - Joe Hamlen - Jo Sercombe - Ben Vleminckx

Useful links

Music in Action

Heritage Lottery Fund