Display of Banbury’s role in WW1 on show

Banbury Museum’s new exhibition to mark the First World War centenary was officially opened on Tuesday.

More than 50 people attended the museum when MP Dr Andrew Murrison, the Prime Minister’s Special Representative for the Centenary Commemorations of The Great War, opened Feeding the Front Line.

Dr Andrew Murrison MP with exhibitions manager Dale Johnston at the new display at Banbury Museum

Dr Andrew Murrison MP with exhibitions manager Dale Johnston at the new display at Banbury Museum

The exhibition was researched by Stephen Barker of the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Trust and explores the role Banbury played during the war.

The museum received £9,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s First World War: Then and Now programme for the project, which mainly focuses on Banbury’s munitions filling factory near Overthorpe.

When declaring the exhibition open, Mr Murrison praised its high quality and expressed his gratitude over Banbury taking to the project so well.

He said: “As I suspect most other people do, I think of Banbury as a rather nice part of the world; I don’t associate it with chemical weapons. This site near Banbury, filling factory number nine, was very much on the frontline as it were, contributing to the war effort.”

Exhibitions manager Dale Johnston was happy two years of work had finally come together.

He said: “I’m really pleased to see it in its final form.

“It’s my hope that people will engage with what they see and think about the war in a different way and see the relevance to Banbury rather than just the Western front.

“If people can come away feeling intrigued and knowing more then the display has done its job.”

Mr Johnston added he had already received promising feedback from visitors. One of them was Nigel Crompton, the regional co-ordinator for displays at the Western Front Association, who was very impressed with the exhibition. He said: “It’s punchy and visual – it’s the best I’ve been to, and believe me, I’ve been to a few.”

Banbury Museum and the munitions factory will be part of an episode of Michael Portillo’s Railways of the Great War, which is aired on BBC Two at 6.30pm on Tuesday.

The free exhibition will be open until November 15. The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10am-5pm but closed on Sundays.