Valley set to remember Great War with new history book

Sandy Hunter with The Valley Remembers book at Rothbury War Memorial.
Sandy Hunter with The Valley Remembers book at Rothbury War Memorial.

A special book has been launched in Coquetdale to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

The courage and sacrifice of the men of Upper Coquetdale has been recognised in The Valley Remembers, which has been produced by a small, but dedicated team and will be launched at an event which marks a weekend of celebrations.

Residents in the Coquet Valley have been researching the names that appear on war memorials in the Valley, in preparation for a themed flower festival and exhibition in All Saints Church, Rothbury.

On Friday, August 1, there will be a half-muffled ring the church bells and the Duchess of Northumberland will open the event, which is also to be attended by the Bishop of Newcastle.

The Duchess will also be given the first copy of The Valley Remembers, which will then be sent to every household in Coquetdale for free.

Copies will also be sold to raise funds for the church.

The book, which has been worked on by Air Vice Marshal (Retired) Sandy Hunter as well as Rev Michael Boag, will take readers on a journey through the lives of those from the valley who were part of the Great War.

The First World War practice trenches on the hill above Rothbury, where around 1,300 new recruits all billeted on village homes were trained before being sent to the front, are still part of the vista and a reminder of what happened there.

And forming part of the exhibition is a record book of bellringers dating from 1892 which also includes details of ringers and their achievements from when the bells were installed in 1893.

The entries for 1914 include references to the initial 1,300 volunteers being billeted on Rothbury, to the forementioned trenches, for training before being sent to the front in April 1915.

Following the book launch a concert will be held in the church while on Saturday another memorial concert will be held at St Michael and All Angels, Alwinton, with a specially-commissioned choral piece, written by resident John Casken, to be played.

And John is trying to contact the relatives of the some of the men named in his piece, Memorial, they are – Joseph Edmonson, Henry George Clark, Robert Gutherson, James Murphy, Thomas Murray, James Robert Richardson, William John Harvey, Thomas Gregory, Thomas Murray Trotter, Robert William Renton, John Thomas Wintrip, Thomas Tate.

On Sunday there will be a parade from Thropton Bridge, exactly as it would have taken place at the time of its original opening.

The events will come to a close on the evening of Monday, August 4, with another half-muffled ringing of Rothbury church bells will herald the closing Act of Remembrance at Rothbury War Memorial.