A TEAM from Colne Local History and Friends of Colne Library have been poring over old photographs and documents in preparation for the Colne Commemorates… 1916 World War One Event on 2nd July. And one of their main resources has been the yellowed, crumbling pages of the century old Colne and Nelson Times.
“It has been fascinating to view a whole year in the history of the town through the paper’s news reports,” said Eleanor Jolley, co-ordinating the Event on behalf of Colne Town Council. “Every page I turned gave a fresh nugget of information. Some things haven’t changed from the paper you read now; sport and crime reports, adverts for houses and jobs. But there is always a subtle difference giving an insight into life at the time; illegal gambling took place up on the moors, the sport was Knur and Spell, rent was 6s a week, and there was a huge shortage of weavers. There are also more adverts for corsets than you would see now. One of the surprises, though, was the number of surprisingly detailed letters from soldiers describing their experiences of war around the world.”
As the centenary of the Battle of the Somme is at the centre of this year’s Commemoration, it is sobering to see the changes in emphasis in the Colne Times one hundred years ago. As 1916 progressed there were more and more reports from the local Military Tribunals which heard the claims of men who wanted to be exempt from military service. From July onwards, pages of photographs appear showing the faces of local soldiers injured and killed in the battle.
Using photographs of the newspapers, Jessica Staton, from a Cardiff University student from Wycollar, has removed distortions and evened out colour before putting together a jigsaw of specially chosen articles into columns to replicate the original paper. These created front pages have been used by the Council for the Event timetable and for the programme of the film showing of ‘The Battle of the Somme’ at the Muni at 7.30 p.m. on 2nd July. Tickets are available for this screening from The Muni Box Office for just £1. “One of the most interesting finds,” said Eleanor, “was a report from 25 August 1916 announcing the showing of that same film for three days at The Queen’s, Nelson. It was heralded then as ‘absolutely the greatest motion picture the world has ever seen’.”
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. The events are also listed on the Colne Town Council Facebook page and on the Colne Commemorates Page.
“We will be having a demonstration of the famous Lancashire/Yorkshire sport of Knurr and Spell with ex World Champion, Len Kershaw, who will be in attendance at the exhibit on the forecourt of Je Ne Sais Quoi at Albert Road. People will be able to look at old Knurr and Spell equipment and have a go on our new demonstrator.”