Centenary of battalions leaving the town – some never to return

The train and Tony Hall, a re-enactor from the Time Bandits group helping to bring this moment to life.
The train and Tony Hall, a re-enactor from the Time Bandits group helping to bring this moment to life.

Saturday marks an important anniversary for Alnwick as we continue to celebrate the centenary years of the First World War.

Alnwick District WW1 Centenary Commemoration Group has already been active in organising events to commemorate the Kitchener Volunteers of the Tyneside Scottish (Service) Battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers marching to the town to occupy Alnwick Camp, before being trained in and around the town in the following months.

They left Alnwick by train on August 1, 1915, as they began a journey which took them to further training on Salisbury Plain, before they went to the Western Front and their involvement in the bloody first day of the Battle of the Somme in July 1916.

The Tyneside Scottish Brigade, containing the 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd (Service) Battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers suffered 2,438 casualties on July 1, 1916, and many of the men who had trained at Alnwick, including locals, never came home.

Back in January and February, the group ran a number of events which culminated in a very well-attended recreation of the March of the Tyneside Scottish into Alnwick.

Last week, members helped to organise participative events at Alnwick Castle where visitors were able to experience and better understand the lives of the troops through meeting re-enactors and handling artefacts.

To mark the centenary of the day the Tyneside Scottish left our community, the Alnwick District WW1 Centenary Commemoration Group has sponsored part of the programme at the Alnwick International Music Festival.

Dave Barras, the group’s 2015 events project manager, said: “By doing this, we hope to give an opportunity to remember the events of 100 years ago to the day and for those who participate to both enjoy the music and spare a thought for those who marched away to war, and those they left behind.”

The group is formed from members of local branches of the Western Front Association and the Royal British Legion, plus people in education.

As well as sponsoring part of the programme of the Alnwick International Music Festival, the Alnwick District WW1 Commemoration Group has, in partnership with the Aln Valley Railway, arranged that its services this weekend will run with The Tyneside Scot nameboard on the locomotive, in memory of the troop trains leaving Alnwick 100 years ago .

An information display explaining the history of the Tyneside Scottish and its formation, training and participation in the Battle of the Somme will be on display at Lionheart Station.

Lionheart Station, to the south of Alnwick near the junction with the A1, will be running trains from 10.30am to 4.30pm on Saturday and Sunday. Adult tickets cost £3.50 on weekends, while children cost 50p. Under sixes go free.