A new World War One exhibition opened with a bang as Pendennis Castle fired a rare 1916 anti-aircraft gun.

To mark the opening of the Fortress Falmouth exhibition commemorating the centenary of the war, two volunteers in period costume fired the historic artillery piece in place of the castle’s usual midday gun.

The exhibition explores the wartime experiences of Falmouth, looking not just at the soldiers who were sent to the castle for training, but exploring the lives of everyday civilians.

It looks at how a town with strong maritime links coped with the threat of U-boat warfare, and the influx of soldiers and sailors who were sent to the area to recuperate, in a period when the population of the town almost doubled as soldiers arrived for training.

Paul Pattison, senior historian for English Heritage, said: “As Britain and its empire went to battle, the people of Falmouth felt first-hand the effects of the onset of war.

“At the time, very few people expected war and fewer still thought it would arrive on their doorstep.

“As well as taking the sons and daughters of Falmouth overseas to the battlefields, and to war at sea, it also brought changes to the quiet way of life for those who remained at home.”