CRAVEN’S communities are preparing to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the end of the First World War next month with a number of exhibitions, events and services. Many groups have spent years carefully researching the lives of the many thousands of men - and women - who lost their lives in the 1914 to 1918 world war. Some were helped in their research with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Farnhill WW1 Volunteers Project was one such group to receive funding. It has set up a website and on Saturday, November 10 at Kildwick and Farnhill Institute it will stage From Farnhill to the Front. Lesley Tate reports.

COMMUNITIES across Craven are preparing to commemorate the hundredth anniversary next month of the end of the First World War. Exhibitions, booklets and services have been arranged to take place in villages, hamlets and in towns, and many have received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Farnhill WW1 Volunteers Project was one such group to receive funding of £8,400 from the lottery and its members have spent two years researching the lives of the 68 men who appeared on Farnhill Parish Council’s Roll of Honour.

The project group has also looked at the lives of the men before, during and after the war, and has explored what life was like a hundred years ago, and the social context in which they lived. They have gleaned their information from reports in the Craven Herald and in the Keighley News, from parish council minutes, and have also received information, photographs and memorabilia from members of the public.

The full results of their research is appearing on its website, along with other articles the group has compiled, and on November 10,there will be an exhibition at the Kildwick and Farnhill Institute.

The exhibition will include slide shows, photographs, artefacts, children’s artwork and the acclaimed poppy waterfall made by Knitwick and Yarnhill craft group.

The project was launched in early 2017 with a magic lantern show recreating the type of entertainment that was popular a hundred years ago.

Since then, a group of willing researchers has spent countless hours looking for information online, in libraries and archive offices with great success.

Project co-ordinator Graham Taylor said:“The amount of material we have been able to gather is astounding and far greater than we ever imagined when starting out. We are grateful to everyone who has come forward with offers of help and information including relatives of the men, from as far afield as Lockerbie and Leicester.”

A selection of personal effects belonging to some of the volunteers, including Private John Spencer Whitham, who was a stretcher-bearer with the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding regiment and won the Military Medal for his bravery, will be on display.

The exhibition will also include details of the volunteers’ lives before, during, and after the war, and a timeline showing what was happening in the village in the war years.

One of the aspects of the war that the project looked at was the Belgian refugees who came to the area, after their country was invaded by Germany.

Around a quarter of a million Belgian refugees came to Britain - the largest ever single refugee flow from one country to the UK, and a number came to Craven, as reported at the time in both the Craven Herald and in the Keighley News.

The Craven Herald reported the arrival of the first group of Belgian refugees, at the end of September 1914. They were provided with rather luxurious accommodation at Bolton Abbey.

The Herald reported: “The Duke of Devonshire’s Yorkshire residence at Bolton Abbey is now being used for a different purpose from that which was expected seven weeks ago, when preparations were being made for the visit of the King for grouse shooting. His Grace has lent Bolton Hall as a temporary home for Belgian refugees, a party of whom arrived on Tuesday night. When they alighted they received a hearty cheer from a group of spectators. The party numbered 21, including three children. They were conveyed to the Hall in carriages and were there welcomed by Lady Blanche Cavendish, the second daughter of the Duke and Duchess.

The group members also discovered in their research who was responsible for the parish council’s Roll of Honour - Tom Turner, whose father, Arthur Turner had become clerk to the council in 1903. He lived in Mary Street and was a clerk in a steel foundry. For 12 years he wrote the minutes of the council’s monthly meetings until October, 1915, at more than 40 years old, he announced at a council meeting that he had joined the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) . The council immediately passed a motion of

thanks; which Mr Turner duly noted in the minutes.

The parish council considered who might take Arthur Turner’s place, before deciding that the best man for the job was his teenage son, Tom.

And so it happened that, just a few months later, it was Tom Turner who drew up the Farnhill Parish

Council Roll of Honour listing the 68 Farnhill WW1 Volunteers. A question that cannot be answered

is why Tom missed his own father off that list - clearly, he would have been eligible.

Tom was not clerk to the council for very long. He was already a teenager when he took over from

his father and, in December 1917, he turned 18 and became eligible for military service himself. He resigned from the Clerk’s position, which was taken over by Thomas Appleby the headmaster of Kildwick School.

The exhibition on Saturday, November 10 will be open from 10am to 4pm at Kildwick and Farnhill Institute. Admission is free. Refreshments will be available. Further details can be found about the work of the group at: All pictures Farnhill WW1 Volunteers Project