Welcome to Summerstown182

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Announcement1

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Summerstown182 has some very exciting news! In partnership with Big Up Films we have been awarded Heritage Lottery Funding. This is a major achievement of which we are very proud. It now allows us, over the next year, to develop the project to work with schools, to set up a ‘Friends of the 182’ history group and involve a wider section of the community in learning about the First World War period and how it affected our area.  

We will be launching our new lottery-funded status on Saturday 24th September with an event at St Mary’s Church, Summerstown. The afternoon will start with the unveiling of a Blue Plaque outside the Tooting home of Sidney Lewis, believed to be the youngest soldier to have served in the British Army in the First World War. We hope as many people as possible will be able to come along to the unveiling or the launch, ideally both. Any offers of help on the day will be gratefully received. If you live locally, we would love you to be a ‘Friend of the 182’ and attend our quarterly meetings or library-based family military history roadshows.

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Summerstown is an historic area between Earlsfield and Tooting in south west London, close to the River Wandle and sandwiched between Wimbledon Stadium and Burntwood School. On this site, over the next two and a half  years, as we commemorate the centenary of the First World War, we will attempt to build a picture of this much-changed community as it stood one hundred years ago. This will be through the stories of 182 men whose names are inscribed on the 1914-18 war memorial in St Mary’s Church on Wimbledon Road. We have promoted it on the streets, through a popular guided walk which goes past many of their homes and key locations. We will be having a break form the walks now while we plan our funded activities but he next walk will probably be in October. Have a look at the map where they lived and see if any came from your road – a poppy marks the home of each soldier or sailor and most of them are just five minutes walk from the church. There are now 168 of them on the map. In two years we have identified a connection with this area for 179 of them, only three remain unidentified. Scroll down the Roll of Honour and see if you recognise any names. Beneath the names and personal details are links to the stories that have been written so far, of their lives and deaths and of the effect their loss had on this neighbourhood. Over this four year commemoration period, we are dedicated to researching and writing something about each of them.

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One local soldier who did come home, was thirteen year old Sidney Lewis from Defoe Road, Tooting who a few years ago was recognised  by The Imperial War Museum as the youngest British soldier known to have served in the First World War. We wanted to publicly acknowledge this incredible story and organised a campaign called ‘A Quid For Sid’ to raise money to place a plaque on his old home. Due to the outstanding generosity of local people this was achieved in a very short time and on Saturday 24th September, Sidney’s son Colin will come and unveil it for us on what will be a very special day. Last year a similar initiative resulted in Wandsworth Council placing a Green Heritage Plaque at the site of a Second World War V2 incident in nearby Hazelhurst Road.

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If you would like to get involved in this project, help with some research or can add something to the knowledge we’ve already discovered, it would be great to hear from you. We have been in touch with quite a number of relatives and new information is constantly emerging. We have also established contacts in Germany, Belgium, Turkey and Australia. Significantly we have discovered that at least two of our men, discharged from the army through illness are buried locally in unmarked graves and their miltary service has no formal recognition. We are very pleased that recently this has been rectified  for one of them, Arthur Mace, who lived on Thurso Street. We are always keen to raise awareness of the project and more than happy to talk to schools, workplaces  or community groups about it. We recently collaborated with Ernest Bevin College as part of their submission to BBC School Report and were thrilled at how engaged the young people were. Have a look at the brilliant short film they made. I’m Geoff and can be contacted via rgbsimmons182@gmail.com.