Westgate Hall invites Canterbury to celebrate its WW1 history and support SSAFA, the Armed Forces Charity

Westgate Hall,  Saturday, 7 November: 10AM – 4PM; Sunday, 8 November: 11AM – 3PM

This weekend Westgate Hall invites Canterbury to explore this historic building and learn something about the world which created it.

This event is happening thanks to the generosity and enthusiasm of many local groups, institutions, residents and students who will be sharing their time, imagination, creativity, passion and knowledge of the World War One period.  Their contributions will shed light on the world which built and used Westgate Hall, capturing and revealing the stories and commemorating the lives which have shaped our families and life today.

The Westgate Community Trust is thrilled that the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is supporting our project as part of the Fund’s First World War: then and now programme.  It is incredibly gratifying to be among similarly funded community projects around the country exploring the legacy of World War One and its continuing impact, and engage in the associated journey of discovery.

We are also grateful to Lord Mayor of Canterbury, Councillor Sally Waters and Julian Brazier, MP for Canterbury and Whitstable, for joining us, and for the contribution of the Viper Corps of Drums and the U3A Ukulele Band.

For cinema lovers, Curzon Cinema is supporting both our event and SSAFA by showing one of the most popular films of WW1, both with the troops and civilians, Charlie Chaplin’s Shoulder Arms.  Tickets are on sale now for the 12.15 screening on Saturday.  This is a 45 minute silent film.  All proceeds from ticket sales will go to SSAFA.

How you can join in.

Stories and Memorabilia: Over this coming weekend, please consider sharing your family’s WW1 stories with us in our Story Corner.  Capturing memories of family and daily life, the world beyond official histories, and recording these for future generations is a major part of this project.

David Parker, expert at the Canterbury Auction Galleries, will be with us from 10AM to help identify your WW1 memorabilia.

Mark Connelly, Professor of Modern British History at Kent University, will pull the event together when he gives a power point presentation on The Buffs and the Territorial Army in Canterbury at 2.30 on Saturday.  WW1 saw the Hall used by the Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles and the 4th Battalion, East Kent Regiment (the Buffs).

Photos: Please bring photos of your local WW1 memorials to help the Canterbury Society’s War Memorials Project, part of a national project to repair, protect and conserve war memorials; photos of Canterbury and life in the city before and during WW1; photos of military life, particularly any of the Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles and the 4th Battalion, East Kent Regiment (the Buffs).

Bringing this world alive. Scrambling through a recreated WW1 trench– thanks to “Blue” Cooper, former Pioneer Sergeant of the Queen’s Regiment – will help bring some of this world alive as will WW1 weapons on loan from Dover Castle.   Echoes from the Kent Coast, local recollections of WW1 captured by Folkestone-based Screen South (25 mins) will be shown on a loop.  Penny Legg and Martyn Barr will have their WW1 books with them and are looking forward to talking about their work.  Simon Langton Boy’s Grammar is sharing its four volume scrapbook compiled during the war for viewing and preparing biographies of some of the boys who fell during the war.

Throughout this weekend we are also working with the Canterbury branch of SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity. The oldest military charity, we are taking the opportunity to spread the world about the tremendous work SSAFA does locally in supporting serving men and women, veterans and their families and help them raise funds to cover the costs of their work.  Any donations to SSAFA will be hugely appreciated and a wonderful acknowledgement of the young men who trained in the Hall and marched from here to war.

For your diaries:  there will be a WW1 fundraiser quiz for SSAFA at the Hall on Saturday evening (doors open at 7PM for 7.30PM start) compiled by SSAFA and University of Kent history students.  Come and take part.

The U3A Ukulele Band will set the tone with a selection of WW1 melodies and songs at midday on Saturday.

The Hall’s WW1 themed cafe will serve light refreshments throughout the day.

Please note: Building a legacy is a significant component of this project.  We will be uploading photographs and recollections onto a dedicated page (under construction) on our website.  Please be aware that photos will be taken throughout the two days of this event to record it.  Filming, as part of video documentation of this project, will also be taking place throughout.  On completion this film will be uploaded on our website and on Youtube.

A final thought: the tone of the exhibition will be different on the two days.  Saturday will be dynamic, full of activity; Sunday, quiet, reflecting the commemorative tone of Remembrance Sunday.

We’re looking forward to having you with us.


Saturday, 7/11: 10AM – 4PM; Sunday, 8/11: 11AM – 3PM

Saturday, specific timings:

  • 10.00 AM Bring WW1 memorabilia for identification by David Parker, general manager, Canterbury Auction Galleries
    11.30 AM Lord Mayor of Canterbury, Councillor Sally Waters
    11.40 AM The Viper Corps of Drums of 3rd Battalion the Queens Regiment Club (VIPERS)
    12.00 PM Julian Brazier, MP for Canterbury and Whitstable
    12.05 PM U3A Ukulele Band plays selection of WW1 music
    12.15 PM Charlie Chaplin’s Shoulder Arms (silent film; 45 mins;1918) at Curzon Cinema, proceeds of ticket sales to Canterbury SSAFA
    2.30 PM Steady the Buffs, the East Kent Regiment, talk by Mark Connelly, Professor of Modern British History, Kent University, and director for Gateways to the First World War
    7.30 PM SSAFA WW1 fund raiser quiz together with Kent University students



  • Scramble through a recreated WW1 trench– thanks to “Blue” Cooper, former Pioneer Sergeant of the Queen’s Regiment;
  • View WW1 weapons (thanks to “Blue” and Dover Castle);
  • Learn about the role of cinema during WW1 thanks to Gateways to the First World War  http://www.gatewaysfww.org.uk/content/about-us;
  • Ponder illustrations of WW1 battlefields, Tim Fox-Godden, a modern response, Illustrating the Great War http://illustratingthegreatwar.co.uk ;
  • Share and record WW1 stories in our Story Corner;
  • Bring WW1 photos of family and Canterbury for scanning;
  • Bring photos of your local WW1 War Memorial to support the Canterbury Society War Memorial Project;
  • Discover WW1 Canterbury, a garrison town, thanks to the Beaney;
  • Watch Echoes from the Kent Coast, memories captured by Screen South thanks to Heritage Lottery Funding (25 mins, on a loop)  http://kentww1.com/;
  • Explore the Imperial War Museum digital record of 8 million lives, Lives of the First World War https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/ and discover how to upload information;
  • Enjoy reading and meeting the publishers and editor of our local history magazine Bygone Kent http://bygonekent.org.uk/;
  • Martyn Barr, author, with his book The Lost Generation http://www.impacthosting.co.uk/lostgeneration/ (donations to SSAFA);
  • Simon Langton Boys Grammar School‘s Great War scrap books, biographies of boys who fell in WW1, and memorial;
  • Canterbury Society War Memorial Project, part of a national project to repair, protect and conserve war memorials;
  • Penny Legg, author, Military Wives from the FWW to Afghanistan   http://www.pennylegg.com/MyBooks.html (proceeds to Canterbury SSAFA);
  • Support and hear about the oldest military charity, SSAFA, the Armed Forces Charity and its work   https://www.ssafa.org.uk/about-us

Looking forward to seeing you!




Westgate Hall