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Sorrow, celebration and social change

Sorrow, celebration and social change

The Armidale region’s experiences of World War I are explored by a new exhibition opening this Sunday to commemorate the centenary of Armistice Day.

The Armidale Folk Museum exhibition examines the themes of sorrow, celebration and social change, inviting visitors to reflect on the sacrifices made by local citizens during the First World War.

On display from 11 November to 3 February, the exhibition features memorabilia of local events surrounding the signing of the Armistice on 11 November 1918, ending four years of brutal conflict.

“Almost 62,000 Australians died fighting for our freedom and in service of our nation,” Armidale Regional Council Mayor Simon Murray said.

“The exhibition will provide a space for visitors to reflect on the sacrifice made by local citizens during the First World War.”

It includes photographs of peace parades in Armidale streets, showing the jubilation felt by the community on hearing the news.

“Within minutes of the declaration of armistice, Armidale streets were thronged with celebrating citizen,” Councillor Murray said.

“The Armidale City Band appeared in Beardy Street and struck up the national anthem, with the Mayor leading the cheer for all those that had helped to bring victory. Bunting and flags were hung from houses and shops, with ‘welcome home’ events planned for returning sons, husbands and fathers.”

Cr Murray said WWI also brought many social changes and served as a catalyst for social support.

“The establishment of associations to care for returned soldiers, widows and children came as a result of the need to support those directly and indirectly affected by the war,” he said.

The Returned Soldiers’ Club was established in the Armidale School of Arts Hall - now the Armidale Folk Museum - and provided a space for men to gather, share their stories and socialise. Strengthened foundations to support the pool tables are still visible in two rooms of the building.

The club was supported by fundraising and donations from the community and held regular socials in the town hall. 

Community members are invited to the exhibition’s opening on Sunday 11 November 2018 from 11.30am, to follow the nearby Remembrance Day service in Armidale’s Central Park at 10.30am.


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