Museum display showing unique items of First World War history belonging to Sunderland father and son extended until the end of the year

A popular World War One exhibition at a Sunderland museum is to be extended until the end of the year.

Friday, 3rd December 2021, 12:43 pm

The exhibition, at The Fans Museum at Monkwearmouth, features a collection of wartime memorabilia and postcards which were rescued from a skip by staff at Sunderland’s Thompson Waste Centre.

The display launched on November 11 to coincide with Armistice Day and was due to run until November 30, however after proving popular, the exhibition will now run until the end of the year, allowing more people to see the historic memorabilia.

The items, which include a letter signed by Winston Churchill and a large, engraved medal, belonged to the family of John Cowie and his son, Henry, who died within days of each other during WWI.

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Anne Ganley with the suitcase

Dozens of postcards from across the years, the Soldier’s Black Book, which was issued to military personnel at the time, and the letter which was sent to inform the family that their loved ones had been killed, are among the many items which will be on show.

It was by sheer chance that the suitcase containing a range of documents, plus dozens of postcards and other, were found by the Hendon waste centre workers, who immediately realised its historical value.

Anne Ganley, owner of Thompson Waste Centre at the Parade worked with museum founder, Michael Ganley, to ensure that these valuable items could be seen by the general public – along with members of the Cowie family.

She said: “The exhibition is a real piece of Sunderland history that could have been lost forever.

A photo of George Cowie in his younger days

“We are so delighted that it has created so much interest and that the museum has been kind enough to allow it to stay in place for another month so that even more people can see it.”

Michael Ganley hopes that the exhibition can become an annual event which can be added to, with even more stories about Sunderland families during WW1.

He added: “We have had a great response so far and it seemed a real shame to take it down so we are thrilled to keep all these rare pieces on show until the end of the year.”

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A letter found in the collection

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A medal found in the collection