Chippenham recreates wartime hospital in Neeld Hall

Wiltshire Times: Lucy Bousie and Melissa Barnett with the books signed by soldiers Lucy Bousie and Melissa Barnett with the books signed by soldiers

Chippenham residents are being invited to help shape an exhibition marking the centenary of the First World War.

During the Great War, the town’s Neeld Hall was used as a temporary hospital set up by the British Red Cross.

It trained up voluntary aid detachment members in first aid and nursing, who treated wounded men.

Chippenham Museum is putting together a major exhibition, to be shown in the Yelde Hall next April, which will recreate the Red Cross hospital room used between 1915 and 1919.

Staff are asking people to loan objects relating to the Neeld Hall hospital. It already has some autograph albums belonging to nurses at the hospital, which were signed by the soldiers with their names and regiments.

Nurse Hart’s book has been loaned from a family in Exeter and Nurse Brink-worth’s from Chippenham.

Museum assistant Lucy Bousie said: “They’re in pretty good condition, considering they’re 100 years old. We are going to research all the soldiers who have signed their names.

“They wrote really nice little poems and drew pictures of the nurses, to thank them for their help in getting them back to good health. One man has written to the nurse, ‘You light up my life’.”

The museum has applied for funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Curator Melissa Barnett said: “We have some brilliant photos of the hall in use as a hospital. This is a long term project, however the museum has already started collecting stories and we would love people to start coming in with their family histories now.”

To loan artefacts call (01249) 705020.

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