Barnsley gathers to celebrate its history

World War One memorabilia at the Barnsley History Day
World War One memorabilia at the Barnsley History Day
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I felt that I ought to report back on Barnsley’s successful history day on Sunday, especially since Retro kindly promoted my book launch of Great Sacrifice there.

Credit is due yet again, to Paul Stebbing, Barnsley’s archivist, for co-ordinating the history day and encouraging so many groups to participate.

One of the fallen: Barnsley soldier John Middleton Downend

One of the fallen: Barnsley soldier John Middleton Downend

Each year he faces the increasing challenge of putting on a programme of events with a dwindling budget.

Twenty voluntary groups attended from around the Barnsley district, from Royston to Silkstone and Wombwell.

Some did not attend this year but several new ones were present, including the People and Mining Project and, from further afield, the Doncaster 1914-1918 project and Huddersfield Family History Society.

Friends’ groups represented Cannon Hall and Locke Park, while regulars such as the Tasker Trust, South Yorkshire Industrial History Society and Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership came along.

Online research into Barnsley's histroy

Online research into Barnsley's histroy

The Maurice Dobson Museum, as featured in Retro on March 12, put on another interesting display, as did Cawthorne Museum, who brought along some photos of their William de Morgan collection.

The Barnsley War Memorial Project was present to update people on the progress that has been made since I set up this group at the end of 2013.

When I first decided to research the 76 names on the Barnsley Holgate Grammar School War Memorial in detail in spring 2013, I had naively expected to be able to identify them from a register of names.

When I discovered that there was none, I decided to start locating and recording war memorials to create a Barnsley Roll of Honour.

After several months of working alone it was obvious that this was too large a task for one person, so I invited my contacts to a meeting to see if others were willing to help and I set up the BWMP at this meeting.

The Heritage Lottery Fund had a stall for the 10th year running. They are impressed by the number of active groups of committed volunteers in Barnsley district and they have grant-funded quite a few projects in the area.

I am extremely grateful to two great nieces of my Old Boys who helped me – Deborah Toft (Sidney Nicholson) and Adrienne McEnhill (John Middleton Downend) – plus husbands (not both mine!), Paul and Eric.

Our display featured several of my articles in Retro, enlarged photos of a few of the Old Boys and promotion of my Somme Centenary Commemoration.

Another project inspired by my Old Boys is a remembrance event on Friday, July 1 at Silverwood Scout Camp in Silkstone.

Everyone is welcome to join me to pay tribute to all who were involved in the Somme battles of 1916, from the raids before the first day of the Somme to its close in November.

The site was originally called Newhall Camp, created as the training ground of the two Barnsley Pals battalions until the end of 1915, when they went to Egypt before transferring to the Western Front in France in March 1916, alongside the Sheffield City Battalion and Accrington Pals.

However, my commemoration is for those who served in any of the many different battalions and regiments in whatever capacity – including various support services and the Royal Army Medical Corps.

It is important to remember the impact of the Somme Battles on all involved, whether they survived, were wounded or were killed in action.

The site will be open from 1.30 to 3.30pm and there will be displays and refreshments in the Scouts’ new lodge. A Remembrance service will take place from 2pm.

I would be delighted to hear from any relations who may wish to attend and include a tribute, or from groups who are interested in being involved.

To get in touch with Jane, contact Retro.