Commemorating the Somme

June 22nd 2016

On the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, Beamish is hosting an event to commemorate the soldiers and communities affected by the devastating First World War campaign.

The first day of the Somme, 1st July 1916, is described as the worst day in the history of the British Army, with nearly 60,000 casualties, of which around 20,000 men were killed or missing.

The devastating impact of the horrific events swept back to the Home Front, as communities received the heart-breaking news that their sons, husbands and fathers had been lost.

At Beamish, the Battle of the Somme Centenary commemorations will take place from 1st to 3rd July.

We’ll be sharing the stories of local soldiers involved in the Somme, including Thomas Hewison, Thomas Pascoe and Reginald Baty, and the effect on North East communities.

The weekend will include re-enactment groups, bands and displays, including a trench art exhibition.

A procession will take place on 2nd and 3rd July featuring bands, infantry and others involved in the event. On Friday, 1st July, 100 years to the day since the battle began, a minute’s silence will be held at 11am.

Paul Foster, Beamish’s Historic Events Officer, said: “During the centenary of the First World War, Beamish has been commemorating different aspects and events of the conflict. The Battle of the Somme was a key event, which comes to everyone’s mind when you think of the war.

“The region was so heavily involved in the battle and the loss was felt across the area, so on the 100th anniversary, we wanted to remember those who were affected.”

The Battle of the Somme Centenary commemorations will include performances by the Borneo Band and Durham and Northumberland Wing ATC (on Saturday and Sunday).

Visitors can see the Manchester Regiment First World War re-enactment group (Sunday), the Gordon Highlanders (Friday and Sunday) and the Durham Pals living history group throughout the weekend.

Watch the 16th Lancers Cavalry unit, with their splendid horses, on Saturday and Sunday, and visit the 29th Field Kitchen all weekend.

The narrow gauge railway in The Colliery Yard will be running, featuring War Department light railway vehicles.

The cottages in The Pit Village will show how the battle affected communities back home, with stories of those injured and bereaved; miners who worked in a reserved occupation to power the war effort, and a conscientious objector.

Wessington U3A’s First World War film will be premiered in the chapel and the group will also be holding an exhibition. There will be a display of First World War trench art, as part of a joint project between Beamish and Newcastle University.

A first aid unit will be set up in The Pit Village, there will be a recruitment station in the Masonic hall and a First World War telegrapher.

The entertainment corps will be visiting The Pit Village on Saturday and Sunday; quilters and knitters will be in the band hall and The Town printer’s will feature real First World War headlines from local newspapers.

As with all daytime events, Friends of Beamish membership and Unlimited Passes can be used for the Battle of the Somme Centenary weekend.

For more information about the event please click here.