Fascinating book looks at Sheffield village Eckington at war 100 years ago

A new book looks at how a North Derbyshire village got through World War One, both the men who went to the frontline and those who kept the home fires burning.

Tuesday, 14th July 2020, 11:13 am

Eckington and the First World War was written by Elaine Chambers, known as Lainy. It builds on a local history booklet that detailed all the local men who served in the war.

She said: “I’m a Sheffield girl but I didn’t know Eckington and when I returned to Sheffield four years ago I came to live there.”

She got involved with local history research into the war and the book is part of that community project, run by Eckington Town Team.

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Arthur and Nellie Lund, part of a family whose story features in the book

Lainy said: “Only one of my informants is the child of a World War One veteran – Olive Newton, the daughter of Harold Robinson. Most are grandchildren and great grandchildren.

"It isn’t a traditional war book – there’s not going to be battle maps and descriptions of combat. We looked at the whole war decade from the perspective of Eckington. I’ve loved doing it.”

She said that men like Frederick Causier Heptinstall, whose story is featured, just returned from war and got on with their lives.

He served with the KOYLI and was injured, went back to work as a miner, lost his wife and brought up four children and later lost his injured leg.

Eckington war memorial, which has been restored as part of the project

During World War Two he used his St John Ambulance skills to help a local GP and won an award, presented at Buckingham Palace.

Lainy spent two years collecting family stories and going to a reminiscence group, as well as doing research.

A local paper, called the Eckington, Stannington and Woodhouse Express, was a valuable source of facts and social attitudes of the time.

One famous figure who crops up is militant suffragette leader and pacifist Sylvia Pankhurst, daughter of Emmeline. She appeared in court at Renishaw in 1918 and was fined for sedition, following a speech she made to Cresswell Labour Party, denouncing the war as “a sordid scramble between two rival groups of capitalists who were struggling to get control of the world’s raw materials”.

One local woman, Nellie Lund, wife of soldier Arthur, was an informal nurse during the flu epidemic of 1918-19.

Lainy said: “Reading the paper, I was surprised by how much they knew – they controlled it by not having large gatherings and knew that closing the schools was important. They knew that the open air was good.”

Arthur’s big brother Harry won the Military Medal for the action that killed him on December 28, 1917. His six-year-old son Edgar was presented with his medal at a ceremony at Endcliffe Hall.

Harry’s widow Lizzie threw the medal on to the fire at home and her mother-in-law pulled it from the flames.

To get a copy of the book for £5, email [email protected]

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