Marking the World War 1 centenary across the district

A detachment leaves Harrogate railway station for York by train in 1914. Picture from the Harrogate Advertiser Series archives.
A detachment leaves Harrogate railway station for York by train in 1914. Picture from the Harrogate Advertiser Series archives.

The people of the Harrogate district came together to mark 100 years since the outbreak of World War 1.

Across Harrogate, Knaresborough, Ripon and Nidderdale, people gathered at war memorials and churches to mark the centenary.

In Harrogate a wreath-laying ceremony at the town’s war memorial on Monday lunctime was organised by St Peter’s Church and members of the British Legion.

Remembering the fallen with the traditional poppy wreath, Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones and the Mayor of Harrogate Coun Jim Clark attended. They were also present on Sunday evening for a service at St Peter’s.

The Mayor said: “I found the service very moving.

“There were a number of ex-servicemen and their relatives and people observed a two minutes silence during a very busy and sunny day.

“It fitted in very well with the commemorations around the rest of the country.”

The British Legion also organised a commemorative service at St John’s Church in Knaresborough, where air cadets read out the names of the people killed from the town.

Knaresborough Mayor Coun Tony Handley said: “It was incredibly moving on two counts: one was that I am aware there are lots of family names still in Knaresborough, and the other was that it was not just one or two people it was four or five. And the service itself was lovely.

“There were a lot of people there - it was a healthy and respectful turn out.

“What I also found incredibly moving was some of the poems that were read out.

“You don’t realise what people went through.”

The meeting of the town council was also called to a close on time for a minute’s silence to allow Knaresborough House to join buildings all over the country in switching off its lights in a nationwide mark of respect.

In addition, the bells of St John the Baptist in Knaresborough were rung half 
muffled for the morning service and were also rung at 5.30pm, when 100 changes were rung half muffled, followed by slow ringing.

Wetherby Mayor Coun Harry Chapman described the activity in the town.

He said: “We had a peace garden with a monument in the middle set up on Sunday to commemorate the soldiers and we had some readings there.

“I read out a story and we blessed the site, then we went to the Methodist Church where we had more readings of what happened during the war and after it, and we had hymns as well.

“Then we set up in the Church room a lot of photographs and information posters about the war for people to look at with drinks.”

There were also displays in nearby Boston Spa Village Hall, where more than 100 exhibits of Great War memorabilia were on show after being donated by communities in the village and from neighbouring Thorp Arch.

Ripon remembered its men who went to war in a series of commemorative events, including parades and concerts.

There featured a massed festival choir and readings of work by War poets, and the Mayor of Ripon, Coun Mick Stanley said: “It’s been extremely rewarding putting this event together because it’s so significant.”

In Pateley Bridge the focus was on St Cuthbert’s Church where people gathered with the town council and British legion in a collective act of remembrance.

Poems reflected on the war and hymns, led by the choir, were sung before the names of the fallen were read out with a candle light for each person.