WW1 Paper Toys was a National Lottery Heritage Fund project involving exhibitions and workshops to enage the public in learning about the First World War using paper toys from the era. The Centenary was a chance to understand the war better, uncover its stories and explore what it means to us today. Between summer and autumn 2018, the project actively engaged children, families and the public in a programme of workshop activities, exhibitions and a high street art trail that inspired learning about the First World War through children's play.
Free paper craft toy making workshops enabled participants to re-live the experience of making paper toys and models using toys originally printed between 1914-18 for children and families on the Home Front. These included cut and fold military themed paper toys of vehicles that were innovated during the Great War, such as planes, submarines, armoured cars and battleships, as well as more generalised paper toys, such as paper doll houses, craft activities and shadow puppets. The toys acted as an accessible gateway to learning about the first fully mechanised war, British manufacturing industry and children's play whilst also connecting to local stories within the Medway region.
Alongside the workshops, a series of pop-up exhibitions of the toys and research material generated during the project provided a unique angle on the First World War. Exhibitions at Medway Archives, The Guildhall Museum and Rochester Library culminated in an art trail of paper toy models that were displayed in shop windows along the main high street in Rochester to coincide with Rememberance Day.
A digital archive of the paper toys used within this project can be accessed here.
The grant was awarded through the Heritage Fund’s First World War then and now programme thanks to the support of National Lottery players.