Sunday, 10 August 2014

Hundreds visit centenary focus on Silsden's Story in the Great War

An outstanding three-day programme of history, remembrance and reflection marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War attracted hundreds of visitors. Hosted by Silsden Local History Group at the handsomely refurbished Town Hall from August 8-10, true stories of Silsden soldiers and local life were told in a unique  and graceful exhibition, supported by poems, readings, music, songs, toys and a revival of a concert party that 100 years ago entertained wounded servicemen in the district's hospitals. Some of the exhibition panels are pictured above and below. All the stage events attracted capacity audiences. Much-appreciated refreshments were provided by Silsden's Royal British Legion, which ran a fund-raising cafe over the weekend. 

 Above: Carol Smith, in an appropriately poppy-patterned blouse, is pictured by a panel showing some of the Silsden men who served in WW1 and whose families still live in Silsden. Top right on the panel is her grandfather, Hubert Morrell, a stretcher-bearer and Silsden bandsman. Carol is social secretary of the Silsden Local History Group and a member of Silsden Royal British Legion.
Above: Brian Sunderland studies a panel showing Ben Hodgson, who was the first Silsden soldier to be killed in WW1. A committee member of Silsden Local History Group,  Brian has extensively researched the life of Ben Hodgson.
Above: (left to right) Sylvia Wass as Mrs Raw, Anne Reay as Mrs Sugden and Bron Farrell as Mrs Fishwick portrayed ladies of the Home Front, who valiantly knitted socks and garments and organised food parcels for dispatch to the troops. Their work was seen in 'The Path Across the Heather', devised, written and directed by Cathy Liddle, which featured poems and original letters sent home to Silsden from the front line. The players also included Ray Colling as the postman (pictured below at a rehearsal).

Above: Caroline Whitaker (left) and Sue Grimley  and, below, Ernest Dodding (left) and Brian Turner were the readers in 'The Path Across the Heather.'
Above: Debbie Park starred in a popular revival of The Masqueraders concert party, which was formed in Silsden to entertain and raise the morale of wounded soldiers at the Morton Banks and Victoria (Keighley) hospitals. Debbie is pictured here with Jordan Russell in an amusing musical sketch, wooing young men in an attempt to persuade them to enlist.
Above: The Masqueraders assemble for a rehearsal. Their concert was devised, scripted and directed by David Hardman, and presented by Silsden Community Productions. The musical director was Angela Clement and the pianist was Terry Simpson.
Above: Silsden Singers, conducted by Carolyn Gill, gave a recital entitled 'Reflections'.
Above: Some of the members of the renowned Steeton Male Voice Choir who, conducted by Alan Clark (fifth from right), presented a tribute entitled 'From the Menin Gate'. Also pictured is accompanist Pat Jones. The choir, founded in 1908, has the distinction of being invited three times to sing at the Menin Gate memorial at Ypres.
Above: 'Remembrance' was the title of the performance by Silsden Town Band, conducted by Andrew Dunn.
Above: Sam and Martha Cheung enjoyed playing with period toys at the Children's Corner. Loaned by the Skipton and Grassington museums, toys and school books brought back memories for older residents.  
Above: the Children's Corner was run by Heather Ogden (right), a member of the Silsden Local History Group, and Susan Johnson. The bike is 100 years old.
Above: the Knit, Stitch and Natter Group of St James' Church demonstrated the knitting of period garments. Left to right are Christine Myers, Pam Spencer, Rene Shackleton, Caroline Setters and Sue Grimley. The group also displayed yesteryear knitwear and patterns.
Above: among the army of Silsden Local History Group members and other volunteers who helped on all fronts during the incredibly busy weekend were (left to right) Rita Farmer, Peter Gill, Pat Colling, Barbara Hetherington, Val Carroll and Brian Sunderland.
Above: a new book by Silsden Local History Group about life in WW1 as seen by a child sold well during the exhibition. Edward's Diary has been written by former Aire View Infants School teacher Beverley Anne Reay and is the story of Edward Robinson growing up in Thanet Square. Edward is fictional but the events he observes are real and took place in Silsden in 1914-18. The book, costing £3, draws on extensive research by the history group.
Above: the commemorations concluded with a service and re-dedication of Silsden's Book of Remembrance at St James' Church. The vicar, the Rev David Griffiths, officiated. The volume, containing the names of 703 Silsdeners who served in WW1, has been rescued from neglect and repaired, re-bound and restored. It now has a permanent place at the church. Commissioned by Silsden War Memorial Committee, the book was presented to the town on Armistice Day in 1926. It recognises those who died as well as 'the men who gave equal service but were not called to equal sacrifice.'
Pictures of the weekend's opening day follow below