An ‘Occupation House’ will take centre stage at Jersey War Tunnels as they launch for the season on Saturday 1st March.
The house replaces the ‘Daily Lives’ display, which has been in place for 12 years. The new exhibition runs across four fascinating rooms and brings to life a number of artefacts from the archive that have never been displayed before.
Visitors can explore the Occupation House kitchen, lounge, hallway and garden. The rooms interlink with a story being told from the viewpoint of various family members. Meet the Occupation Housewife who explains the trials of cooking for a family under the constraints of rationing and faces the dilemma of what to do at Christmas for the children. Then hear from Charlie, a little boy who tells the true story of a Jersey family who hid a joint of meat under a baby in a pram so they could save their family from starvation.
Each story in the new exhibition is drawn from real life events. Inspiration came from the personal family stories of the Jersey War Tunnel’s staff, who have worked tirelessly over the past two months to bring the house to fruition. Many of the artefacts have been donated from the staff themselves and their meticulous research to deliver historical accuracy is evident.
Visitors and locals alike will enjoy the new features; you can sit in the lounge and listen to the wireless or even hunt for the hidden crystal radio set. In the kitchen you can view an excellent collection of real 1940’s food items from Lyons Black Label Tea, to Birds Custard Powder. The house culminates with a replica air raid shelter, which was introduced to the Tunnels in 2013.
Kathy Bechelet, Operations Manager, Jersey War Tunnels, says:
‘Every year the tourism industry comes up against new challenges but each season we continue to invest to keep our attraction relevant and engaging. The new ‘Occupation House’ exhibition has been a very personal challenge for the team, encompassing a number of our own family occupation stories. We are very proud of the results and hope it helps to communicate to visitors the trials faced by Islanders of the time.
We have also implemented changes to meet the demands of the growing European market; by May we will have updated audio guides in three languages and this year we are also introducing the guidebook in French and German for the first time. We won’t stop there, our local film competition to celebrate 70 years of Liberation is also now in full swing and we look forward to hearing from more keen entrants too.’