WHEN historian Liz Woolley created an exhibition about the 66 men from one Oxford suburb who died in the First World War, she expected it to fill a space in the local church for a few weeks.

Instead it has captured the imaginations of thousands.

The exhibition has gone around the county in displays at the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock, St Matthew’s Church on Marlborough Road, South Oxford Community Centre and Westgate Library.

Now there are just days left to catch it at the library before the show and its creators have a well-deserved Christmas rest.

Ms Woolley, 48, of Marlborough Road, Grandpont, said: “We thought it would be a few months and that would be it. We’re surprised by how well it’s done but it’s great.

“It’s to do with the fact that with the First World War, the sheer numbers can be overwhelming, but this project brings it home down to a personal level.

“People can identify with these men and think about the men in their own family.”

The exhibition will be on display again for the whole of January at Oxfordshire History Centre at St Luke’s Church in Cowley, and there are plans to put it on at Oxford Town Hall and Christ Church.

There is now a window display version of the exhibition in the former Black’s on St Aldates, which runs until the end of this weekend.

Ms Wooley said: “It’s a great location, close to the city centre and by a bus stop, so hopefully lots more people will get to know about the men from Grandpont.”

The project is about more than just the exhibition. Through the touring display and the project website, which has been visited thousands of times, Ms Woolley has got in touch with the families of 20 of the 66 men.

She has filmed interviews with many for a documentary which is due to be premiered in Oxford on May 26 next year.

She added: “The number of family members keeps rising. It is 20 now but we would always be pleased to hear from people.”

One of them was Meatmaster butchers director Matthew Alden, of Abingdon Road, Oxford.

He trawled through company archives to learn more about a cousin by marriage John Benson, a Lance Corporal with the 5th Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry killed in action in 1915 aged 19, at Ypres in Belgium.

Mr Alden, who now has a young family of his own, said: “It is astounding to think about.

“The company now employs 65 people so it is a similar size, and I look at everyone who works there now and just think how brave those men were.”

The project website is updated regularly as new material, particularly from relatives, comes in, to add to the biographies of all the Grandpont men.

Find out more at southoxford.org/local-history-in-south-oxford/66-men-of-grandpont-1914-18