Meet The Tommy Day at Nat

by Catherine Smyth Media

THE army marched into Bacup when a ‘Meet the Tommy’ event brought the First World War to life.

At Bacup Natural History Society Museum the first Heritage Lottery funded open day was held.

Even though road works meant there was a real life trench outside the Yorkshire Street building, people managed to manoeuvre around the blocked roads and the museum was busy all day.

Scott Knowles, from The Great War Society, was ‘Tommy’ and he knowledgeably explained to parents and children what the future held for those who took the King’s Shilling.

For every child who enlisted, a replica King’s Shilling was handed out, and all children who dressed as a First World War soldier or nurse received a prize.

Matthew Carr, nine, was one of the first to swear allegiance and he was kitted out with a soldier’s uniform.

He said: “I have learnt how itchy the uniform was and how far they had to walk every day.

“I also had a pack on my back and I thought it was heavy but it only had foam in it. I think it would have been pretty scary to be a soldier. I liked being able to get dressed up though.”

Last November, the Nat officially opened its snapshot of Fern Hill Auxiliary Hospital, a First World War hospital for injured soldiers in Stacksteads.

The Nat secured a £10,000 Heritage Lottery grant to enable the former back yard at the building to be converted.

As part of the funding a series of events are being organised and in September a ‘Meet the Nurse’ open day will be held.

Local historian and author Wendy Lord masterminded the project. She spent a year researching the stories of soldiers who had been cared for in the hospital and all the information is contained in her book Nursing Heroes: The Fern Hill Story.

She said: “It has been brilliant to see so many new faces coming into the Nat, despite the unexpected road works that appeared outside the building.”

Bacup Nat is open every Tuesday 1.30pm-4pm and every Thursday from 7.30-9pm and on the third Saturday of every month from 10am-2pm.

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