A booklet illuminating the everyday lives of the working-class people of east Cambridge during World War I has been published – the day before the centenary of the armistice.
Barnwell at War is the result of research by a 100 Years of Coconuts group in collaboration with Wolfson College.
Coconuts researchers also worked with the University of Hertfordshire’s Everyday Lives in War engagement centre and the University of Central Lancashire to examine the lives of those left behind in working-class east Cambridge when its men marched off to war.
Accounts of the World War I experiences of Cambridge University undergraduates and dons are not difficult to unearth but narratives of the Barnwell working class, many of whom served their Varsity masters before signing up, have been all but ignored.
Barnwell at War reinstates the cultural memory of an area of Cambridge beyond the touristic gaze, and indicates a pattern of life for the majority of the UK population through an era of unparalleled trauma.
Researchers also sought to find out what became of the young men who played for the newly formed Abbey United Football Club in 1913/14, shortly before the outbreak of hostilities. They came very close to identifying those players; work in this area continues, with a possible breakthrough imminent.
Published by Lovely Bunch, Coconuts’ publishing operation, at £4.99 (£1 discount for CFU members), Barnwell at War is available through the CFU online store. It will soon also be available through the CFU caravan on match days, Cambridge booksellers and other outlets in the city.
The attractively designed booklet is illustrated by many seldom-seen photographs and features an introduction by Michael Hrebeniak, Coconuts committee member and Director of Studies in English at Wolfson.