Century old notebooks of a Preston Brook nurse teach children about the First World War

Mabel Harriet Earp

Mabel Harriet Earp

First published in News
Last updated
Runcorn and Widnes World: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

A PROJECT based on the century old notebooks of a Preston Brook nurse has inspired children to learn about the First World War.

Volunteer nurse Mabel Harriet Earp was born in Runcorn in October, 1879.

She cared for injured soldiers and collected their stories, poems, letters and drawings and kept them in a notebook.

Mabel’s War is a partnership project with the Cheshire Military Museum and Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Grosvenor Museum.

A special event has been held to celebrate the success of the project.

Pupils discovered all about Mabel’s life by examining the variety of things that had been recorded in her notebooks.

They followed in her footsteps by keeping their own scrapbooks over the last few months. Each child picked their favourite page which has been used as part of the Mabel’s War display.

An adult literacy group worked with poet Dominic Berry to write poems inspired by her voluntary work.

Health and social care groups compared the qualities they have with the attributes they thought Mabel demonstrated as a volunteer nurse.

They worked with artist Juliet Staines using different techniques and materials including sewing, ironing and bandages to make their own individual scrapbook pages.

Children aged seven to 11 worked with Steph Brocken from Minerva Arts to create a new piece of drama based on Mabel’s notebooks using the soldiers’ comments and drawings as inspiration. They performed their finished piece at the celebration.

Steph Brocken said: “The children have worked really hard.

“It has been exciting to see how the drama project developed and to be able to use the fascinating story of Mabel and her 100 year old notebooks.”

Mabel was the daughter of William Earp, a chemical manufacturer, and Emma (nee Armstrong).

She was one of five children.

Her family moved to Preston Brook between 1881 and 1891. She is described as an art student in the 1901 census.

She was a volunteer nurse at Oaklands Military Hospital in Preston Brook and Frodsham Auxiliary Hospital.

Mabel married George Bertram Leach, a civil engineer, on February 7, 1918. He served with the Royal Engineers during the war until his medical discharage as a result of wounds in July, 1917.

Mabel died on December 24, 1947.

The Cheshire Military Museum houses a collection of five notebooks which date from around the Great War. They include drawings and paintings completed by Mabel alongside the thoughts, drawings and poems of the soldiers she treated.

The Mabel’s War digital exhibition will be on display at Cheshire Military Museum at The Castle, Chester, from March 28-June 3, 2014.

There will be a talk about the project on Thursday, April 17. Families will have the opportunity to draw like Mabel during special events during the Easter holidays.

Visit cheshiremilitarymuseum.co.uk for more details.

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