New exhibition chronicles the aftermath of First World War on South Tyneside

An exhibition chronicling the aftermath of the First World War in South Tyneside has opened at South Shields Museum & Art Gallery.

Conscientious objector Aaron Ernest Gompertz, right, who rose to become Mayor of South Shields. Pic: South Tyneside Libraries.
Conscientious objector Aaron Ernest Gompertz, right, who rose to become Mayor of South Shields. Pic: South Tyneside Libraries.

Our Hopes Profound: How WWI changed people’s lives in South Tyneside was officially opened by the Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Ken Stephenson.

Visitors will be able to view the exhibition - the title taken from the powerful Laurence Binyon poem For The Fallen - until May 2019.

Our Hopes Profound is part of the Returning From The Front project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Local South Tyneside family, date unknown.

The project brought together South Tyneside Council, North Tyneside Council, Community Arts Project North East and Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, to mark the centenary of the Armistice at the end of the First World War.

Geoff Woodward, museum manager said: “The impact of the First World War on society, communities in our borough and on individuals was intense and long-lasting.

“People had to cope with the life-changing effects of loss, disability, psychological damage, the changing roles of women, and unemployment.

A Remembrance Service in 1926 at the War Memorial at the junction of Westoe Road and Horsley Hill Road in South Shields. Pic: South Tyneside Libraries.

“Of course there was also joy when the war, which many feared would go on for ever, finally ended.

“This exhibition provides an engaging opportunity to reflect and explore these themes that touch many of us directly through our own ancestors.”

Coun Stephenson said: “The end of World War One was a pivotal moment in world history.

“It touched the lives of so many people, devastating families and communities across the country, yet it helped to shape the world we live in today.

Jarrow Fire Brigade in action. Pic: Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums.

“Our Hopes Profound is a brilliant new exhibition giving people the opportunity to learn more about the legacy of this terrible conflict and the huge impact it had on society in South Tyneside.

“It also brings together a great deal of work and research carried out by local groups and organisations as the borough joins the rest of the world to mark a centenary of remembrance.”

Visitors can get up close to artworks, photos, personal diaries listing those who died, postcards and war ephemera like ration cards, identity tags and memorial plaques.

Our Hopes Profound features various personal stories of people from South Tyneside.

From the tragic story of war nurse Marion Dorothy Chapman of Westoe Village, who died three months before the Armistice caring for the wounded in Egypt, to the remarkable survival of all five Cheesman brothers, who were raised in John Williamson Street, South Shields.

The tale of the local conscientious objector Aaron Ernest Gompertz, who rose to the position of Mayor of South Shields, is also explored.

Groups from different areas of the community have contributed to the exhibition; Lord Blyton Primary School in South Shields created designs for peace mugs and certificates like those given to children in South Shields and Jarrow at the end of the War.

Members of Women’s Health in South Tyneside (WHiST) worked with glass artist Sue Delbridge in creating panels depicting women at work during the war.

The Our Hopes Profound exhibition mirrors Hearts At Peace: How WWI Changed People’s Lives in North Tyneside, which runs at Segedunum Roman Fort in Wallsend over the same period.

• South Shields Museum & Art Gallery is open six days a week, Monday to Friday 10am – 5pm, Saturday 11am – 4pm. There is no charge for entry, but donations are welcome.