Weâ€™ve just launched â€˜Home Front Storiesâ€™, a resource uncovering little-known experiences of British life during the First World War. We are presenting this research in a rather unique way â€“ in the form of a fictional town called Great Wharton.
Why a fictional town?
At The National Archives we are continuously exploring new ways for people to engage with our records. In recent years we have created an interactive map of the global impact of the First World War and an award-winning exploration of the Magna Carta, to name but two.
For â€˜Home Front Storiesâ€™ we wanted to try a different approach, one that would appeal to a broad range of people of all ages and showcase the unique research that went into the project.
Research and design
When it came to designing Great Wharton, we focused on authenticity (making sure the features looked appropriate for the time) over accuracy (copying the design of specific buildings).We began by researching late-Victorian and Edwardian town architecture to get an idea of what typical buildings of the era looked like – the church, the post office and shop, the police station, houses, farms, railways and – of course – the local pub. Some of these buildings would have been appropriated for wartime use, such as the school and the factory, so we paid particular attention to those.
To construct the buildings we began with a set of basic 3D models, which were modified in Photoshop to add the required level of era-appropriate architectural detail.