Schools receive new book on Belper in the First World War

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Primary school children are learning all about life in Belper during the First World War thanks to a new book produced using a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Belper in Wartime: Outbreak of the Great War was written by Adrian Farmer, heritage coordinator for the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, and published by Belper Arts Festival and the Belper in Wartime Commemorations Working Group.

The Lincolnshire Regiment arriving in King Street, Belper, during September 1914.

The Lincolnshire Regiment arriving in King Street, Belper, during September 1914.

Adrian has been visiting Belper and Milford’s schools to deliver each of them 40 copies of the book and talk to children about life in Belper a century ago.

He said: “They have been very enthusiastic and eager to learn. I’ve been impressed at how quickly they recognise the town from photographs taken 100 years ago.”

On some visits, Adrian has been accompanied by his colleague Gwen Wilson, dressed as a Red Cross nurse, who has talked about the wartime hospital for injured soldiers in Green Hall on King Street.

Project organiser George Gunby said: “We knew a lot about what happened on the fronlines, but information on life at home was scarce.

“Thanks to an enthusiatic group of volunteers, we have now a comprehensive picture of what life was like in Belper during the first two years. Plans are in hand to cover the final two years. Thanks to everybody who participated.”

The two-year lottery-funded project has also produced a DVD based on the book, and dramatic presentations in December 2015 and for the centenary of the Battle of the Somme in July 2016.