Oatlands during World War One
It's easy to forget the impact that the first world war had on Oatlands but the events across the channel brought about changes that altered the way of life for every town and village in Britain - life would never be the same again.
There was the obvious loss of family members, and the war memorial at the junction of Vale Road and Oatlands Drive bears witness to that, but the changes went much deeper than that.
Try and imagine the effect on the small, close knit community when children and families were evacuated from London to escape the Zeppelin bombing raids, the sudden influx of wounded troops arriving at the hospitals that were established at the Oatlands Park Hotel and Barham Lodge and the dramatic increase in traffic along Oatlands Drive that the ambulances and other transport vehicles would have created.
Probably for the first time in their lives, the ordinary folk of Oatlands met and socialised with people from a 'foreign country' - the Oatlands Park Hotel was primarily for New Zealand troops, a secondary unit to Mount Felix at Walton. This is what led to the naming of New Zealand Avenue.
The children from London's East End were probably just as 'foreign' as they joined classes at the two schools in St Mary's Road - the girls and infants at what is now The Village Hall and the boys at the 'Old School' where Old School Mews is now situated.
Soldiers recovering from their injuries would have enjoyed a drink, a chat and a game of darts or 'shove hapenny' in the village pubs and would have bought postcards to send home from John North.
Our horizons were expanded amongst the loss and sadness.
The British Association for Local History are having a one-day workshop in February 2014 entitled "Strangers". Looking at the effects of the war on local comminities. It will be worth attending - read more here. (opens in new window)