Exploring the First World War in Orpington

Orpington MP, Jo Johnson, is encouraging constituents and community groups to apply for a grant from the First World War: then and now programme, run by the Heritage Lottery.

Grants of between £3,000 and £10,000 are available to help fund projects seeking to explore, conserve and share local heritage of the First World War. Every community in the UK was affected by the war and the Heritage Lottery Fund is uncovering some of these stories 100 years on.

Orpington has a well-documented association with World War One. The Ontario Military Hospital first opened in 1916 on the site of what is now Orpington Hospital, and treated injured soldiers returning from the front line. There are 116 soldiers, including 88 Canadians, buried at All Saints’ Church, in a corner of the graveyard that is still known as ‘Canadian Corner’. Biggin Hill Airfield, most famous for its role during the Battle of Britain, was established as a base for fighter aircraft protecting London from Zeppelin attacks and raids by German bombers during the First World War.

National Lottery funding has already helped more than 1,620 First World War projects to get underway across the UK, and the opportunity to apply for funding remains available.

Jo said: ‘The First World War: then and now programme is a great initiative that is helping us to understand more about the huge impact of the First World War on our communities.

The projects that have been undertaken so far have been fascinating. I would urge anyone in Orpington who has an idea for a similar project to consider applying for a grant.’

More information about the First World War: then and now scheme, including guidance on the application process, is available here.

Photograph: Jo at the 2016 Service of Remembrance in Orpington with Cosette Huntington-Thresher. Photo: Keith Larby