A Birsay Heritage Trust project
Do you think you might have artefacts related to the loss of HMS Hampshire, or to Lord Kitchener, famous for the First World War “Your Country Needs You!” recruitment posters?
If so, Birsay Heritage Trust would love to hear from you. The group’s volunteers are arranging an exhibition to mark the centenary of the sinking of the warship off Orkney with the loss of 737 men, including Kitchener.
Keith Johnson, Chairman, Birsay Heritage Trust, believes there may be artefacts, photographs, letters and memorabilia hidden away in cupboards, attics and sheds which would be of great interest to the public. Or, perhaps you have a family story related to the Hampshire to be told?
A replica of HMS Hampshire has been specially commissioned as a contribution to the “Remembering The Hampshire” exhibition, to be held from 3 to 5 June at Birsay Community Hall, Orkney.
The model, expected to be around one metre long, is to be built by professional model maker, Paul Tyer, of Peedie Models, Tankerness, using Admiralty plans obtained by the trust.
HMS Hampshire was taking Earl Kitchener, Britain’s Secretary of State for War, to Russia for talks when she sank on 5 June 1916. There were only 12 survivors.
Keith Johnson said: “We hope the exhibition will interest local people and the many visitors expected here in June to remember the loss of the crew of HMS Hampshire, as well as Lord Kitchener and his staff, when she foundered after hitting a mine off Marwick Head.
“We are appealing to folk throughout Orkney, and the UK and abroad, for items, photographs, and memories.”
The trust will work with Voluntary Action Orkney to record oral memories which will be made public in both audio and written formats, and preserved for posterity.
Volunteers will be trained in the correct use of the equipment, and in the techniques used to best “draw out” family memories and stories from people who have come forward. Help is also needed to staff the exhibition throughout its opening times.
Birsay Heritage Trust’s Remembering The Hampshire – supported by Orkney Island Council’s World War I Culture Fund – is intended to complement Orkney Heritage Society’s Kitchener & HMS Hampshire Memorial project which will see the Kitchener Memorial at Marwick Head restored and a commemorative wall created alongside, engraved with the names of all men lost with the warship.
On Sunday 5 June, the centenary of the sinking, an evening service will be held at Marwick Head, Orkney. It is expected the nearby Birsay Community Hall will be the hub of activities that weekend with talks, films and catering.
Mr Johnson said: “We hope the exhibition events will be a focal point for those attending the centenary events, enriching their visit and offering them some Orkney hospitality.”
All historic items not needing to be returned afterwards will be held by Birsay Heritage Trust and publicly shown, on an ad hoc basis, as opportunity arises.
Anyone who would like to offer artefacts or memories, or act as a volunteer, can contact Alan Manzie, Birsay Community Development Worker, by telephone (07503 519328), email (Alan.Manzie@vaorkney.org.uk) or by writing to: Alan Manzie, Birsay Community Development Worker, Voluntary Action Orkney, Anchor Buildings, 6 Bridge Street, Kirkwall, KW15 1HR.