PART of Colne Town Council’s Heritage Lottery Funding was to carry out an outreach project to local primary schools in advance of Colne Commemorates… 1916 on Saturday, 2nd July.
The children were shown real and replica artefacts from the Great War and they learnt in a half-day session how the war affected people in the town, as well as about life on the front for a typical soldier. The Nurse and the Tommy are professional historical re-enactors from Lancashire County Council’s Heritage Learning Service.
Christ Church’s Year 5 was one of the classes to experience the sessions which recapture life a century ago. Mr. Strachan’s pupils were all extremely eager to take part in the shouty drill sessions and were swift to capture the basics. The children learnt how the law had changed to introduce conscription and the harsh realities of Army life: horrendous living conditions, danger and shouldering the burden of heavy kit over many miles while under the threat of a gas attack.
Cllr. Sarah Cockburn-Price, chairman of Colne Town Council commented: “At first the atmosphere in the classroom was light hearted, but when the children saw their classmates issued with gas masks and they were shown the emergency rations and the foot powder to prevent trench foot, the message of what their forebears had been through a century ago hit home. I hope as many of them as possible will come and experience our installations throughout the town on 2nd July.”
The day begins with a parade through the town from the British Legion to the War Memorial at 10.45 a.m. After a short service there, half muffled bells from St. Bartholomew’s herald the rest of the day’s events. There is a trench and medical recreation at The Hippodrome, as there was in 1916. Replacing the Recruitment Hall of two years ago is a recreation of a Convalescent Home at Arteology and at the Little Theatre, a munitions worker and a Tommy from a firing squad relive their experiences. In the centre of town is a recreation of Colne Town Council’s canteen, with original menu a period photographer’s studio in the Glass Box. In addition, there will be free crafts, music and talks throughout the day. The culmination of the day’s commemoration is a showing of the Battle of the Somme film in the Muni in the evening. Tickets for this event are on sale at the Muni Box Office for £1.
Mr. Strachan, Year 5’s teacher at Christ Church School, said: “This session brought to life elements we had already covered and also exposed the children to much new information presented by characters from the period. Every child got to join in the demonstrations or play a role, whether it was shouldering the heavy back packs or plotting the progress of an injured soldier through the various field and port hospitals and those who made it back to Blighty. We are grateful to Colne Town Council and to the Heritage Lottery Fund for giving our children this memorable opportunity.”
Just a fortnight after Colne Commemorates, is The Summer World Music and Food Festival in Colne Town Centre throughout the day on 16th July with the Market Street closed all day. Ten days later, on the evening of Tuesday, 26th Colne Town Council is staging The Colne Grand Prix Cycle races sponsored by cottages.com and Fort Vale. For first time ever, Colne’s main race has the honour of closing the race series.