Plans take shape for WW1 centenary

A single poppy lies on the rain soaked names of the fallen at the War Memorial in Lancaster.
A single poppy lies on the rain soaked names of the fallen at the War Memorial in Lancaster.

A series of events, lectures, performances and services are being organised to mark the centenary of World War One in the Lancaster district next year.

The World War One Commemorations Group met at Lancaster Town Hall on Tuesday to work on plans for a multitude of activities and spectacles that will reflect on the war – which began on July 28 1914 and lasted for five years.

The launch of the commemoration is scheduled for Armed Forces Day – June 28 - which is also the date, 100 years ago, of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo.

The assassination set off a diplomatic crisis, whichultimately caused the conflict which spread around the world, leading to the deaths of millions of people.

Corinna Peniston-Bird, senior lecturer from the department of history at Lancaster University, said: “Our main goal is to ensure that different groups know of all the plans afoot, and can collaborate, sharing knowledge, experience and ideas.

“A very welcome consequence of the Centenary network has been the discovery of mutual interests and concerns where individuals representing different groups and plans have found unexpected points of contact with others.

“For such creativity and cooperation to emerge from the commemorative activities of the First World War seems particularly fitting.”

Plans for the commemoration, which is scheduled to carry on until 2018, include a heritage trail taking in key locations in the city centre and beyond, programmes and projects in schools, a commemorative march, guided walks, plays, musical performances, lectures and church services.

The events will look at the Lancaster district’s involvement in the war, the people who played a part both at home and abroad, and the effects the war had on the landscape of the area.

Organisations involved include Lancaster City Council, Lancashire County Council, Lancaster Military Heritage Group, Lancaster University, Lancashire Family History and Heraldry Society, Kings Own Royal Regiment Museum, Lancaster Civic Society, The Centre for North-West Regional Studies, and The Priory.