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Prime Minister announces Government plans to mark centenary of First World War in 2014

Prime Minister David Cameron today set out the Government’s plans to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War (WW1) in 2014.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

These plans include a £35m refurbishment of the WWI galleries at the Imperial War Museum (IWM); a project made possible due to an extra £5m from the Treasury announced today. This additional money will be paid for from fines imposed on financial services firms for misconduct.

And Culture Secretary Maria Miller will chair an expert advisory panel to oversee the programme and ensure that the centenary plans are delivered.

Speaking at the IWM, an institution founded in 1917 to record the then still-continuing conflict, Mr Cameron said that he wanted to build a truly national commemoration, worthy of this historic centenary.

The Government’s principal partners in the commemorations will be the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Royal British Legion, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the IWM, but will encompass support for a multitude of other initiatives, large and small, as they come together in the months and years to come.

The four-year programme will take the form of:

  • National commemorative events to mark the anniversary of the start of WW1 in 2014, the first day of the Battle of the Somme (2016) and Armistice Day(2018).  Other anniversaries across the period will also be marked in different ways;

  • The opening, in 2014, of refurbished WW1 galleries at the IWM; 

  • An enduring educational legacy costing £5.3 million, jointly funded by the Department for Education and the Department for Communities and Local Government, which will allow pupils and teachers from every maintained secondary school in England to have the chance to go on a tour of the great battlefields and take part in remembrance ceremonies on the western front.

  • At least £15m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, including a new £6m community projects fund, announced today, to enable young people, working in their communities to conserve, explore and share local heritage of the First World War; and

  • A grant of up to £1million from the National Heritage Memorial Fund to support HMS Caroline, the last surviving warship from the First World War fleet. She will now have a secure future in Belfast, where thousands of people will be able to visit her and learn about her unique role in the First World War.

An advisory panel of unremunerated senior figures headed by Culture Secretary Maria Miller will be appointed to oversee this work and ensure that it is delivered effectively.  Her board will offer independent oversight of the UK’s preparations for the centenary, a link with institutions beyond government and the encouragement of private giving to centenary related initiatives.

The Prime Minister said: “The transformation of IWM London will see the museum re-opened as a centrepiece of our commemorations for the centenary of the First World War and with it, new generations inspired by the incredible stories of courage, toil and sacrifice that have brought so many of us here over the past century.

“It is absolutely right that we properly mark this centenary and I am delighted to be able to announce an extra £5 million to support the museum’s project.  It will be a vital component of Centenary commemorations and will ensure that many more parents and children come to this very special place to learn about a defining part of our history and to remember the sacrifice of all those who have given their lives for us in conflicts across the last century.”

Culture Secretary Maria Miller said: “All of us, young and old, have a connection to the First World War, either through our own family history, the heritage of our local communities or because of its long term impact on society and the world we live in today. 

“It is absolutely right that we mark its centenary and do so not simply with the solemnity that such an anniversary demands, but with a programme containing a significant educational element, so that our young people have the chance to appreciate the enormity of what happened at the beginning of the last century, and its continuing echoes in our lives today.”

Andrew Murrison MP, the Prime Minister’s special representative in the preparations for the centenary, added: “From  2014, nations, communities and individuals from across the world will come together to mark, commemorate and remember the lives of those who lived, fought and died in the First World War.  The UK’s programme has been carefully planned to emphasise remembrance but also to recognise the global impact of those terrible years, and what today’s young people can learn from it.”

Notes to Editors

  1. The £5 million funding for the Imperial War Museum is a consequence of new rules introduced by the Government so that fines from banks and other financial services firms no longer go to the industry. It can be made available in 2012-13 due to amendments which will be brought forward to the Financial Services Bill later this year.  The amendments will mean that, in future, regulatory fines revenue in excess of enforcement case costs for the year will go to the Exchequer. The new arrangements will apply to fines received from 1 April 2012, so the measure will include the penalty imposed on Barclays in relation to the attempted manipulation of LIBOR.

  2. The £5 million funding for the Imperial War Museum is in addition to the £35 million for the Armed Forces Covenant - which will also be funded by regulatory fines imposed on the financial services sector in 2012-13 - announced the Chancellor of the Exchequer earlier in the week.

  3. Membership of the Advisory Panel will be announced shortly.

  4. Heritage Lottery Fund - Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage.  HLF has supported more than 33,000 projects allocating £4.9billion across the UK. 

  5. The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) - The National Heritage Memorial Fund was set up in 1980 to save the most outstanding parts of our national heritage, in memory of those who have given their lives for the UK.  It will receive £20million Government grant in aid between 2011-15 allowing for an annual budget of £4m-5m. HMS Caroline joins a diverse range of over 1,200 iconic objects and places which have been safeguarded by the NHMF to the tune of over £300million.  

For further information, please contact Natasha Ley or Alison Scott, HLF and NHMF Press Office, on tel: (020) 7591 6143/6032. Out of hours mobile:

Press Enquiries: 020 7211 2210
Out of hours telephone pager no: 07699 751153
Public Enquiries: 020 7211 6000

Published 11 October 2012