Wilfred Owen 100

Shropshire-born poet and soldier Wilfred Owen is known throughout the World as one of the greatest World War I poets. He was born at Plas Wilmot near Oswestry in March 1893. His father Thomas worked on the railways and after spells at Birkenhead and Shrewsbury the family moved back to Shropshire’s county town in 1907 where Wilfred was educated at Shrewsbury Technical School (later The Wakeman School). He enlisted in the army in 1915 and was killed in action in France on 4th November 1918. During a period of convalescence at Craiglockhart he met Siegfried Sassoon who influenced his poetry. Only five of Owen’s poems were published in his lifetime.

In recent times Owen has been depicted on film and in TV documentaries and his poems have been set to music.

For a full biography visit Wilfred Owen biography

Since 2014 Shropshire communities have been working in partnership to deliver an extensive and ambitious programme of heritage and arts activities to commemorate the First World War, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council, England.

The project will culminate in a large-scale commemoration in 2018 of the 100th anniversary of Wilfred Owen’s death at the age of 25, in November 1918, just 7 days before the armistice.  WO100 will reflect on the emotion, exhibitions, installations and projects from the 2014 – 2018 commemorative period and celebrate Shropshire’s renowned son – soldier and poet, Wilfred Owen.

Shrewsbury Heritage, Shropshire Archives and Shropshire Arts Service aim to coordinate a county wide partnership. The production of a complementary programme of Cultural Arts activity will be published in May 2018.

The life and contribution of Wilfred Owen and all the other natives of Shropshire who were swept up into the services during the conflict will be a key element in the programme, but the wider social impact of the war on all the inhabitants of Shropshire will also be of crucial importance.

Shropshire played a key role as a location for large scale training and prisoner of war camps, as well as for over 40 hospitals, often located in country houses. Large number of women volunteered to work in hospitals and also on the land including those who were part of the Women’s Land Army. The impact of the war on Shropshire women’s lives cannot be over-estimated.

The project will showcase and bring to life the fantastic archive and museum holdings in Shropshire including:

  • Collections in Shropshire Archives, including the records of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, and estate and family collections that tell the stories of individual Salopians of all classes and their very varied experience of the war
  • Collections held by Shropshire Museum Service and Shropshire Regimental Museum including weapons, trench art, clothing, photographs and souvenirs
  • Collections including medals, photographs and records held by local voluntary museums, local organisations and individuals, such as the significant archive collection held at Stokesay Court, which was a hospital during the First World War.

The project will also harness archives, artefacts and memories held out in the community by organisations and individuals, and secure their preservation and accessibility for the future. The ambitious aim of this partnership project is to involve every community in this large county, and to reach audiences of all ages.

Activities supported by the project will include a 100 hours event, expressing the lasting importance of Wilfred Owen in the county of his birth and upbringing and in the town where his parents received the fatal telegram as the Armistice bells were ringing in November 1918.  Festivals and events for children, lectures, workshops and creative opportunities for adults, stories researched by individuals and groups across the county and the creation of educational resources for all Shropshire schools will all focus on the impact of the First World War on society and culture. Activities will take place from 2017 to 2019.

You can keep up to date with events via Twitter @WilfredOwen100, on Facebook – (search Wilfred Owen 100) and Shropshire Remembers website