PHOTO GALLERY: Norfolk land girls’ stories are focus of new Gressenhall exhibition
An exhibition honouring Norfolk's Land Army girls will focus on the stories of four particular workers when it opens this spring.
The Women At War Gallery at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum, near Dereham, will showcase the attraction's collection of uniforms, tools and photographs –including many donated by local families.
The final layout of the exhibition has now been decided and organisers hope the first visitors will be welcomed in late spring or early summer.
Megan Dennis, Gressenhall's curator, said, as well as a Fordson tractor and Land Army murals, the gallery would feature the stories of four Norfolk veterans who worked the county's farms and forests during the first and second world wars.
Eve Attridge, from Bradenham, near Dereham, Kay Barnard, from Oulton Broad, Mary Smith, from Sheringham, as well as Olive Crosswell, who passed away in the 1980s, will share their experiences through photographs, letters and recordings.
Mrs Crosswell worked in Market Garden at Houghton during the first world war.
The curator said: 'We're being sent sound recordings of her describing her life here. It's really rare. I'm really excited about hearing her voice.'
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Mrs Attridge joined the Timber Corps in 1942, aged 18, and trained at Culford Camp in Thetford Forest, while Kay Barnard quickly found herself in charge of a dairy herd of 40 cows after joining the land army in 1943, aged 17-and-a-half.
Sharing her story, she said: 'I landed at my destination at 2.30am the next morning, with a knock on the door at 4.30am to get up and go milking –thrown in at the deep end.'
Mary Smith is one of Norfolk's most high-profile Land Army girls after she successfully campaigned for official recognition for the workers.
With the help of North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, she convinced the government to acknowledge their labours with a commemorative Land Army badge in July 2008.
She said: 'I was very proud to be a Land Girl. The work was hard and could be, at times, dangerous.'
The idea for the gallery came after one of the museum's Village At War events a couple of years ago.
Land Army veterans who attended said they would like more opportunities to share their stories.
Dr Dennis said: 'We thought it was about time we created a permanent exhibition to recognise their work.
'In some ways, they fought the most important battle – they kept everyone fed. If they hadn't been here, there wouldn't have been any bread, milk, butter or crops.
'Some of the girls felt they were the forgotten army. We wanted to show we hadn't forgotten them.'
Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum re-opens for the season on March 13.