School children transported back 100 years to First World War

The First World War and one of its bloodiest battles was brought to life for school children by historians.

Thursday, 17th November 2016, 3:12 pm
Updated Friday, 18th November 2016, 11:21 am
Theo Bradshaw from Hesleden Primary School in one of the many Army uniforms brought into Blackhall Primary School by members of the Blackhall History Group. Picture by FRANK REID

Youngsters learned about the importance of the Battle of the Somme as part of an engaging event by the Blackhalls Local History Group to mark the 100th anniversary of the battle.

Children aged nine to 11 tried on Army uniforms and handled objects from the period at Blackhall Colliery Primary School to help them connect with the battle despite it taking place a century ago.

Hero Bear with pupils and staff during a visit to Blackhall Primary School by members of the Blackhall History Group. Picture by FRANK REID

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Children from nearby Heselden Primary School and St Joseph’s in Blackhall also attended the event.

Forces charity Help for Heroes, which brought along their mascot Hero the bear, also brought the event bang up to date.

Stan Gray, of the history group, said: “Teachers from every school thanked us and said they had thoroughly enjoyed the day.

“The children at Blackhall Colliery Primary School especially learned about the Battle of the Somme and First World War so it coincided very nicely with what we did.”

Tom Smith from Blackhall Local History Group helps Blackhall Colliery Primary school Head Girl Maddison Inchcliffe hold a Lee Enfield 303 rifle during a visit to the school. Picture by FRANK REID

The event featured an eye opening talk by retired teacher Tom Smith from Hart Station who visits war cemeteries in France several times a year.

Bill Elliott from Beamish Museum took along a number of artefacts including rifles and leather football and boot like the kind used in games played during a Christmas Day truce in 1914.

Children also learned about Sunderland footballer Charlie Buchan who served in the war.

Kay Stephenson, Year 5 teacher at Blackhall Colliery school, said: “The event helped to stress the importance of the Battle of the Somme.

Pupils from Blackhall Primary Colliery, Hesleden Primary and St. Josephs Primary schools with members of the of the Blackhall History Group, during a Somme and remembrance day visit to Blackhall Colliery Primary School Picture by FRANK REID

“We did not glorify war but we want the children to know what happened. It was a brilliant day and the children were interested and engaged throughout.

“It was brought up to date with Help for Heroes who we presented with money from our collection from the sale of wristbands.”

The event was supported by Councillor Edward Bell, chairman of Durham County Council and his consort Coun Jennifer Bell.

Blackhall Local History group member Gail Craig and St Josephs primary School Blackhall pupil Joshua Local with a WWI football and boot they brought into Blackhall Primary School during a Somme and Remembrance day visit by members of the Group. Picture by FRANK REID
Hero Bear with pupils and staff during a visit to Blackhall Primary School by members of the Blackhall History Group. Picture by FRANK REID
Tom Smith from Blackhall Local History Group helps Blackhall Colliery Primary school Head Girl Maddison Inchcliffe hold a Lee Enfield 303 rifle during a visit to the school. Picture by FRANK REID
Pupils from Blackhall Primary Colliery, Hesleden Primary and St. Josephs Primary schools with members of the of the Blackhall History Group, during a Somme and remembrance day visit to Blackhall Colliery Primary School Picture by FRANK REID
Blackhall Local History group member Gail Craig and St Josephs primary School Blackhall pupil Joshua Local with a WWI football and boot they brought into Blackhall Primary School during a Somme and Remembrance day visit by members of the Group. Picture by FRANK REID