The 11th of November 2018 marked the centenary of the ending of the First World War, and lots of villages put some serious effort into commemorating the parts played by their residents of the time. On Saturday the 10th, the day most of the exhibitions were taking place, I set out to walk around as many of my local ones as I could fit in, with the aim of finding out about two lads – and possibly also their sisters – recorded as living at my house on the 1911 Census.
I didn’t have a lot to go on: the family are only recorded as living at the house for one year, according to both the census and the Burgess Rolls, but I have found mention of the younger of the two boys, Henry Valentine Wade – aged 13 at the time of the Census – as an absent voter registered in Thornton Lodge in 1918 and serving as a Private in the East Kent Regiment, and as a contact person on his father’s death announcement in 1948 along with his younger brother. The older of the two boys is more of a mystery: Claude Stanley Wade is entered on the 1911 Census, but his details have been crossed out. Since his occupation was listed as a Motor Wagon Driver, I have up until now assumed that he was away from home through work on the night of the Census.
I began my search at Golcar, where the local scouts had set up an exhibition in their Centre, and also created a field of crosses and poppies on the adjoining land to represent the number of residents who lost their lives in the war. Although the exhibition was very informative, I didn’t find any mention of my people; I didn’t take any pictures inside either, and now regret having no record of the very detailed model of the trenches that was on display.
My expedition next took me down one hill and over another to Crosland Moor and St Barnabas Church. This exhibition was entirely within the building, apart from the poppies of the stained glass windows above the main door. The war dead were represented, though not in their full number, by perspex figures placed amongst the rows of pews. As well as tea and cake, we were also entertained by music: initially in the form of recordings of church music, then later by a choir singing songs of the war era. The church was well decorated with poppies – real and artificial – and the display boards were complemented by a range of artefacts and recreations of wartime environments.
Although I’d seen no indication of any exhibitions in Thornton Lodge – Crosland Moor being the closest place to have definitely organised anything – I made a slight detour to walk through the area and was rewarded by the sight of a rainbow if not anything more relevant to my journey. There were no exhibitions and I was none the wiser about ‘my’ lads, but I had one last destination in mind: the Village Hall just along the road from my house.
The Milnsbridge exhibition was my favourite of the day, and not just because it’s so local to me. The perspex figures were again in residence, this time sitting around a table displaying artefacts of the War. The highlight of the display, however, was the recently rediscovered and restored Milnsbridge Roll of Honour. Originally on display at St Luke’s Church, Milnsbridge, the memorial was moved to the Village Hall in 1982, but put into storage during renovations in 2005. The triptych is an object of beauty, especially the way in which it was displayed for the exhibition, although the smaller memorials from the old library and school are also poignant in their simplicity.
Milnsbridge also had some outdoor displays, as I discovered the next day on my way back from the Golcar Ceremony of Remembrance at their War Memorial, and later that day as I was on my way to join the Discover Huddersfield World War One Walk. On the building site hoardings along George Street, I found a memorial to four men from that road who were killed in the War.
Elsewhere in the village, were a display of poppies made by local school children on the side of the old library, a single poppy in memory of a man from the houses opposite its locatio, and a full listing from the Huddersfield Roll of Honour on a decorated fence, in memory of the woman who compiled the published list, who died shortly after its completion.
I learned a lot from my adventures over the Centenary Weekend; I didn’t find anything about the lads or their sisters, but one Milnsbridge history buff has given me some ideas as to where I can look next.