Restoration of well forms part of village commemorations

The community of Belford is to celebrate the restoration of one of its wells, which has supplied the village for centuries, as part of its First World War commemorations on Monday.

The structure, in West Street, had fallen into a poor state of repair, but work has recently been carried out to spruce it up.

Eric Gassner, chairman of Belford Community Trust and coordinator of the restoration project, said: “The well is located right next to Belford’s war memorial and its downtrodden appearance looked sad. So we decided to do something about it. Once word went round about the idea support flew in from the War Memorial Trustees and Bell View Resource Centre which sits opposite the site.”

Plans were designed and funds for the work were quickly sourced. Materials such as oak posts with wrought-iron chain links, cobblestones and re-cut sandstone steps were sourced and local joiners Eric and Graham Taylor and stonemason Jamie Young set to work. The job will be complete and ready for Monday’s ceremony to dedicate the well and honour Belford’s men who went to war.

The service will be conducted at the well by the Rev John Beckwith, vicar of Belford’s St Mary’s Church of England, and John Crawford, lay preacher of Belford’s United Reform Church, at 11am. Everyone is welcome to attend.

A commemorative plaque marking the history of the well will be unveiled by Belford resident Enid Dewhirst who recently celebrated her 100th birthday. She was born just before hostilities began.

Reproduction silk Flanders poppies will be laid at the well by uniformed representatives of the Royal Navy, the Army, the Royal Air Force and the Merchant Navy and they will be available, free, to members of the public who may also wish to lay a poppy at the ceremony.

As part of the commemorations, Belford’s free museum, Belford and District Hidden History, in the old Reading Room, will open to view the launching of it’s rolling exhibition on the war and it’s impact on the people of Belford.

This first phase will concentrate on events in the second half of 1914, including the role of the war horse, the first fatality and the first Belford prisoner of war.

One of the highlights is the model of a First World War trench, made and donated by Tony Lee. Other First World War items lent or donated by local families will also be on show.

In the New Year, the exhibition will change to reflect the events of 1915, when the majority of Belford’s men who volunteered first saw action.