Bringing Research to life

From 21st February until 25th February 2023 we held a final exhibition to showcase two years of research made possible by National Lottery Heritage Fund. This research looked at the lives of almost 2,000 men of the 1913 4th Portadown Battalion Ulster Volunteer Force. The programme of events brought to life the long forgotten personal stories of the men who fought on the battlefields of the Great War and those who stayed behind to keep the country going. For the First time in local history, we brought life to their stories and remembered in detail, the men who came home.

Out in the Community

The main focus for this programme was to engage and involve as many groups within the community. Also including our CATCH Network groups. Ensuring they where from different backgrounds and areas of the town to reflect the local story of the Great War. The programme of events began on 21st February. St Marks Parish Church opened the doors of the Church to showcase their exhibition, detailing the men from the Parish who died in the Great War. They where able to bring their names from the memorials in the church and give each of them their life story again. In the evening, Regenerate hosted a living with World War One exhibition and also the 21 for 21 Exhibition from the Ulster Scots Agency. This exhibition looked at 21 Ulster Scots who had an impact on the world in the last 100 years. This included military men during the First World War. As part of this evening they also had a World War One Craft Workshop for Kids. This provided the perfect opportunity within the Brownstown and Rectory areas of the town for successful community engagement, bringing the history and heritage to the communities door step.

Carleton Street Orange Hall

On Wednesday 22nd February, again St Marks Parish Church was open to showcase their exhibition. We also opened the main exhibitions in Carleton Street Orange Hall. Each room within the hall showcased a particular historical element of the Great War. In the Magowan room, we had a First World War recruitment office. This was to showcase the story of the 4th Portadown Battalion Ulster Volunteer Force who signed up to the 9th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers at Carleton Street Orange Hall. In the Shillington room, we showcased the forgotten stories of the men of the 4th Portadown Battalion UVF and displayed artefacts that belonged to the men. In the Rock Room, we showcased the story of the medical and nurses role during the Great War. This brought to the forefront the role of women during that time. We also had an exhibition displayed from the Somme Association and Museum which highlighted the role of women. In the Gracey Room, we showcased the research and project outcomes of successful groups within our CATCH Funding Network.

CATCH Funding on display

Upstairs in the Function room, we had displayed lots of artefacts relating to the period of the Home Rule and the Great War. This was made possible through our Committee member, Ashley’s personal collection of items. We also showcased the hard work of Daughters of Laura JWLOL 42. They had researched the men from Portadown Ex Servicemen’s, ‘Hands on Heritage’ CATCH Fund programme of Great War Veterans buried in Seagoe and Drumcree Cemetery. JWLOL 42 through their CATCH Fund Programme, produced headstones based on the design of Commonwealth War Graves type for the Veterans buried in family graves. They displayed their stories along with it. In the Whitten room we also had an exhibition on the Chinese Labour Corps. Working with the Chinese Welfare Association, we where able to bring the stories of the men of the Chinese Labour Corps to life. This paid tribute to their contribution during the Great War. On a local level, this history and never been told before, so the display provided an excellent educational opportunity for the local community.

Building Relations

On Thursday 23rd February, as well as displays at St Marks Parish Church and Carleton Street Orange Hall, Corcrain Cultural Development Association hosted exhibitions at Corcrain Orange Hall.  The hall is located in a contentious area. It has often seen violence and disturbances during the Troubles. This event provided the opportunity to open the hall to the local community. The Hall has seen a lot of work and development over the last number of years thanks to the Cultural Development Association as well as the local Orange Lodge. They have worked tirelessly to improve community relations in the local area. With the changing demographics of the area, leading around Obins Street and towards Garvaghy Road, the exhibitions offered the chance to welcome members of the BAME Community. The exhibitions on display included The Arches of Portadown and ‘Her Story Her History: The Sisterhood’ exhibition which explores the history of the women’s orange institution in Portadown.

Rural Communities Contribution

On Friday 24th February, exhibitions and displays continued at St Marks Parish Church and Carleton Street Orange Hall. Derrycarne Rural Community Association hosted an event at Derrycarne Orange Hall. This showcased the role of the rural community during the Home Rule period and the Great War. With the stories of local men from the area on display, they also unveiled an educational plaque detailing the men from the local area. This was a unique project as many of the men on the plaque still had family in the area over 100 years later. The Plaque was unveiled by Mr William Dilworth. Mr Dilworth, aged in his nineties is one of the oldest residents in the area and his Father was memorialised on the plaque. Mr Dilworth was able to provide lots of incredible oral history around that period of history. This was an amazing asset for younger generations and made a fantastic contribution to the Derrycarne Community Archives.

The week of events concluded on Saturday 25th February. We hosted a guided tour of St Marks Parish Church which looked at the churches connection with military history. Carleton Street Orange Hall was also open as we welcomed the final crowds to the hall to view the exhibitions on display.


Thanks to National Lottery Heritage Fund

The final exhibition and series of events was made possible through National Lottery Heritage Fund. It showcased a lot of hard work over the last two years. This was one aspect of our overall ARCH Programme.