Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: World War 1 engagement centres

The five World War 1 engagement centres provided UK-wide support for community groups and activities to commemorate the centenary, and complemented other related Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) activities.

2014 to 2121
Partners involved:
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), University of Birmingham, University of Kent, University of Hertfordshire, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Nottingham.

The scope and what we're doing

Five First World War engagement centres were created:

  • Voices of War and Peace – University of Birmingham
  • Gateways to the First World War – University of Kent
  • Everyday Lives in War – University of Hertfordshire
  • Living Legacies – Queen’s University Belfast
  • The Centre for Hidden Histories – University of Nottingham.

A key focus for them was to provide UK-wide support for community groups funded through a range of Heritage Lottery Fund funding programmes, via the First World War: Then and Now community grants scheme. Their support and expertise enabled them to connect researchers from universities with communities, by disseminating their interests together.

Each of the five engagement centres had a set of themes and areas of expertise on which they were able to provide support to communities across the UK who were thinking of carrying out commemorative activities relating to the centenary of the First World War. These themes continually evolved during the course of the centenary in the light of interest from community groups.

Why we're doing it

The engagement centres supported a wide range of community engagement activities across the UK from 2014 to 2021, connecting academic and public histories of the First World War as part of the commemoration of the war’s centenary.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

The five centres offered research and support for specific themes.

Voices of War and Peace

The University of Birmingham, in collaboration with Cardiff, Durham, Manchester Metropolitan, Newcastle, Birmingham City, Wolverhampton and Worcester universities.

The centre offered research support and guidance for community groups around the First World War in general, and in particular around the following themes:

  • belief and the Great War
  • commemoration
  • childhood
  • cities at war
  • gender and the home front.

For more information:

Gateways to the First World War

University of Kent, in collaboration with Leeds, Brighton, Portsmouth Universities and Queen Mary, University of London.

Gateways contains a range of expertise which helped community groups explore the following areas:

  • memorials, commemoration and memory
  • life on the home and fighting fronts
  • the medical history of the First World War
  • wartime propaganda and popular culture
  • maritime and naval history
  • operational and military history.

For more information visit Gateways to the First World War.

Everyday Lives in War

University of Hertfordshire, in collaboration with Universities of Central Lancashire, Lincoln, Exeter and Essex.

How did war affect daily life between 1914 and 1918 and what was the legacy of the conflict? This centre aimed to encourage community research into questions such as these and has particular expertise in:

  • First World War food and farming
  • theatre and entertainment
  • conscientious objection and military tribunals
  • supernatural beliefs
  • childhood
  • family relationships
  • cartoons, trench publications and popular culture.

For more information:

Watch the video by Adam Jones-Lloyd, made for the Everyday Lives in War Engagement Centre in which Tony Dyer, a flight test engineer builds a replica First World War Sopwith Camel seat.

More films from the centre are available on their Everyday Lives in War YouTube channel.

Living Legacies 1914 to 1918: from past conflict to shared future

Queen’s University Belfast, in collaboration with universities of Ulster, Newcastle and Wales and Goldsmiths College University of London.

The Living Legacies First World War Engagement Centre in Belfast explored the enduring impacts and legacies of the First World War and how it lives on in the twenty-first century.

The centre was interested in helping communities to:

  • tell their stories and share these stories with others
  • rediscover the forgotten First World War heritage in our landscapes
  • find out why and where people moved as a result of the war
  • express stories about the conflict through drama and theatre.

It has particular expertise in the following areas:

  • museums and exhibitions
  • migration and ‘moving lives’
  • material cultures and archaeology
  • digital technologies and digitisation
  • performing arts.

For more information:

The Centre for Hidden Histories

University of Nottingham in collaboration with Oxford Brookes, Manchester Metropolitan, Nottingham Trent and Derby universities.

The centre’s key thematic interests included:

  • migration and displacement
  • the experience of others, from countries and regions within Europe, Asia and the Commonwealth
  • impact and subsequent legacies of the war on diverse communities within Britain
    remembrance and commemoration
  • identity and faith.

For more information visit The Centre for Hidden Histories.

Who to contact

Ask a question about the World War 1 Engagement Centres programme.

Voices of War and Peace


Gateways to the First World War


Everyday Lives in War


Living Legacies 2014 to 2018


The Centre for Hidden Histories


Last updated: 11 June 2024

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