A century ago, Colne boasted 26,000 people, a number of cotton manufactories, some iron foundries, works for the manufacture of looms and mill furnishings, a brewery, a brick works and a goodly amount cattle dealing.
The Colne Times of Friday, 7th August 1914 reported the immediate impact of the declaration of War, with Ambulancemen from Trawden and Colne leaving to serve on ships, hospital ships and in shore-based hospitals. The men marched to the railway station with cheering crowds led by a band. Many other men and women left Colne and surrounding villages to fight or serve in other ways in the weeks, months and years that followed. All those who stayed were affected in some way.
Many men joined the East Lancashire Regiment, famous for the Accrington Pals. The Regiment served on the Western Front, at Gallipoli, and in Macedonia, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. In all, they earned a total of 120 Battle Honours and suffered a total of 7,000 casualties.
Colne changed forever.
Colne Commemorates the Great War has been designed to help us all remember.
In 2014, we held our first event and despite the rain, Colne turned out en masse with visitors from farther afield to remember.
Two years later, we chose Saturday, 2nd July to hold our second event: Colne Commemorates… 1916. This is was the closest weekend to the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.
Our second Colne Commemorates Day looked at the Home Front in Colne and began with a parade and a brief memorial service.
- The Town Council’s Events Committee worked with the set building team from The Hippodrome to build an authentic recreation of a convalescent hospital in the original building (Arteology) and trench experience at The Hippodrome.
- At the Little Theatre, there were talks about the munitions factories in Colne and the Colne lads who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
- Colne Town Council ran a food kitchen for children during the Great War. We have the original weekly menu and we recreated it in both 2014 and 2016.
- Colne’s Camera Club once again, recreated a period photographer’s studio and sold sepia print portraits.
- Opposite the Town Hall, was a children’s craft tent with craft activities, including postcards and knitting, throughout the day.
- Screened the famous 1916 film, The Battle of the Somme at The Muni with period entertainment.
- Colne’s event guide on 2nd July was the front page of the first edition of the Colne Times in July 1916, with the reverse giving a run-down of all the activities, their locations and timings.
- During the summer term, we mounted an outreach project to local primary schools. In November, the Town Council will host a exhibition of the primary school children’s Colne Commemorates… 1916 project work at the Town Hall together with displays and artefacts from the Colne Commemorates Project.
- The final Colne Commemorates will be held on 4th August 2018.