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The project has gathered photographs of the gravestones of as many of the Farnhill WW1 Volunteers and their immediate family as we could find. We have also collected photographs of War Memorials and Rolls of Honour which include their names, and entries made in the Skipton crematorium Book of Remembrance.

You can see all the photographs here.

Kildwick poppy display 2018In recent years the local knitting group has produced some wonderful display pieces for the Kildwick Summer Fair – there was a knitted canal in 2016, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal; and a knitted meadow in 2017.

This year, to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War 1, the group produced their most ambitious and architectural piece yet – a “weeping poppies” display, in wool.

Here are some photographs of the magnificent display.

Our appeal to raise funds for the restoration of the Farnhill Methodist Chapel WW1 Roll of Honour has been a great success and the target has been achieved.

We are currently making final arrangements with a conservitor and the plan – still to be confirmed – is that the original Roll will be carefully removed from its decaying cardboard backing, cleaned, and if possible the names re-inked.  A full-sized, high-resolution digital photograph will then be taken and the colours and original border pattern restored, based on similar Rolls held in archives.

We hope that the digital replica will be ready to be unveiled at our exhibition, “From Farnhill to the Front”, to be held on 10th November – to coincide with the centenary of the Armistice.  The replica, framed under UV-resistant glass, will then be put on permanent display in the Institute, where it can be viewed by the public.

Many thanks are due to all the people who contributed to the appeal.

On Friday 13th April 2018 a group of people from the project visited the Bankfield Museum, Halifax, the home of the Duke of Wellington’s Regimental Museum.

Many of the Farnhill WW1 Volunteers served in the Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment and we spent about two hours looking at the displays dedicated to the regiment’s history and a special exhibition entitled “For King and Country”, about the First World War, which runs until 22 December 2018.  We were shown round by John Spencer, Curator of Military History, who was kind enough to spend all morning with us.

There was also time afterwards to see other parts of the museum including textile displays and the library, and to take in the historic surroundings of the former Victorian mansion in which it is housed.

A visit, not just for the regimental display but to see the museum as a whole, is highly recommended.

Going by the feedback received afterwards it was a very enjoyable and informative experience.

Feedback & Photographs

Below are some photographs taken during our visit and people’s opinions on the museum and the WW1 displays.  (Note that the views expressed are not necessarily those of the people shown in the photograph next to them.)

Bankfield Museum visit - 1

One of the many interesting exhibition display boards

The displays were interesting

“The special WW1 display was exceptional.”

“Items were well laid out in easily viewed cases, items hung on walls were at a good height and signage was well written and informative.  It provided a very good overview of the war.”

“Displays were interesting and informative being well laid out and well-lit so easy to see.”







Bankfield Museum visit - 2

John Spencer, curator, (right) guided us round the exhibition

We were shown round by John Spencer, Curator of Military History (on the right)

“John added tremendous value to the visit.”

“He was knowledgeable, open to questions, acknowledged those areas where his knowledge was imperfect or where our knowledge of a topic might exceed his.”

“What a great curator. So knowledgeable and obviously passionate about history.”




Bankfield Museum visit - 3

Bankfield Museum visit - 4
The exhibits promoted discussion and quiet contemplation

The visit was interesting and informative

“It was interesting to discover more about the history of the Regiment from how it got its name to the conflicts it was involved in.”

“I have visited this museum several times in the past.  The Duke of Wellington’s display area is of particular interest although, until my involvement with our project, I didn’t really appreciate the local connection.”

“Seeing the collections of personal artefacts and uniforms made everything more real, more personal.”


There was time for reflection …

“…the tragedy of so many young men losing their lives, often in the most horrendous circumstances…”

“It makes me thankful that most men from our village survived active service but no wonder many chose not to talk about it.”


 … and for recommendation

“I would certainly recommend anyone interested in Military history and the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment to visit Bankfield”

“I think it is very likely that I will visit Bankfield museum again.”

“Besides the military history there are other exhibits and the building itself is impressive.”


Bankfield Museum is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm.  Admission is free
The WW1 exhibition, “For King and Country”, runs until 22 December 2018.  

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Early in 1917, with compulsory conscription in force, Farnhill lad Norman Rhodes was called up for military service.  Norman’s older brother, Cecil, was already in the forces, he was one of the Farnhill Volunteers having volunteered before conscription was introoduced in February 1916.

Perhaps feeling that he had already given up one son and unwilling to risk another, Norman’s father, Albert, appealed to a local Military Tribunal for an exemption on behalf of his son; but this appeal was turned down, and Norman was ordered to join the Army.

Like the Rhodes family, the chairman of the tribunal that considered the case was also a Farnhill man, the Rural District Councillor George Bottomley and, because of his position on the tribunal, Albert Rhodes subsequently held Bottomley personally responsible for his son’s safety.  Over the following months he repeatedly threatened Bottomley with dire consequences if Norman came to any harm, including saying that he was not afraid to die and would “do Bottomley in” and that he would “swing for him” if his boy was sent to face winter in the trenches.

On January 3rd 1918 Albert received a letter from Norman saying that he was going to be shipped over to France within a very few days.  Later that day he accosted Bottomley in the street, shouting “I shall go [deleted] mad. I give you fair warning that I will have my revenge. My son would never have joined the army if he hadn’t been sent; you are the man that sent him and I shall hold you personally responsible. The Tribunal is, like the war, a [expletive deleted] fraud.”

The police were called, Rhodes was arrested, and appeared before Skipton Magistrates on January 14th.  He admitted threatening Mr. Bottomley, but persisted in voicing his belief that he was fully justified.  He took some persuading to agree to cease troubling Mr. Bottomley in the future, but was eventually bound over to keep the peace for six months with a personal surety of £50 and surety of £25 from another person.

Note:  Happily, both Norman and Cecil Rhodes survived the war.  In 1929 Cecil married Florence Julia Greenfield Day, in Ilkley; Norman was one of the witnesses.

View the full news report of Albert Rhodes’ feud with George Bottomley — Craven Herald, 18th January 1918

A year in the life of a WW1 Tommy

The Farnhill WW1 Volunteers project is hosting an illustrated talk by Kath Dowthwaite entitled “A Year in the Life of a Tommy” – at 7pm on July 6th in the Kildwick and Farnhill Institute, Main Street, Farnhill. Admission will be FREE and refreshments will be available.

The talk is based on the 1918 diary of 18 year old Private William Leeming Marsden of the 12th Kings Liverpool Regiment.

After a few months of training in England, William was sent to Northern France where he served in the trenches until the end of the war – returning to England late January 1919. In his pencil-written diary, William gives graphic details of what life was like for a teenager in the trenches.

Hope you can join us !

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It is rare, even in wartime, for someone to be present on two ships sunk on the same day – and even rarer for that to happen to someone who is not in the Navy. But that was the fate of Percy Walmsley, a Private with 1/6 battalion Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment, on the 17th November 1915, when he was being brought home to England from France.

He survived and, while recovering in hospital, wrote about the experience in letters home.

Article – Percy Walmsley and the Anglia disaster

Sometimes it is the smallest pieces of trivia that bring the lives of the people we are researching into sharp focus.

The project has recently been put in contact with the daughter of Farnhill WW1 Volunteer Thomas Edward Sugden.  She was able to confirm key pieces of our research — that her mother divorced Sugden, remarried, and then emigrated with her children and her second husband to Canada in 1947.

She has loaned us this photograph of Carl and Marjorie Walker (formerly Sugden), taken in the early 1950s at their home in British Columbia.

Marjorie and Carl Walker

Carl and Marjorie Walker (formerly Sugden), with Corby the dog

We’ve even been told the name of the dog — Corby !  He was the family’s first pet in Canada and, typically for a Labrador, he seems to be taking things easy.

Slack family group

The photograph shown above is of the Slack family – father Richard Henry and his wife, Lily, with their daughter Mary in her arms; two of their sons Peter and William sat on the wall, with their brother Richard stood in front of them; and the two other childen, Martha Ann (known as Sissie) and Charles, sat down against the wall.

It was probably taken at the family home on Silsden Moor, in 1895 or 1896 (Mary was born in 1895) and is remarkable in that all four of the boys would later become Farnhill WW1 Volunteers.

  • Richard Slack (b. 1886) served with the Royal Flying Corps (the forerunner of the RAF).
  • William Lister Slack (b. 1887) served for nine years, including the whole of the war period, with the Mercantile Marine.
  • Charles Slack (b. 1889) volunteered to serve with the Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment but was discharged due to a throid condition that deteriorated during his training period.
  • Peter Slack (b. 1892) served with the West Yorkshire Regiment.

All four men survived the war, although William died just a few weeks after returning to Farnhill in 1919, of influenza.

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The census taken on 2nd April 1911 recorded where people were living, the size of their dwellings, how they were employed, and their family structures.  It also recorded information about other buildings – including shops and places of work.

An analysis of the 1911 census returns for Farnhill has been carried out for the project.  It provides an interesting and informative snap-shot of what life must have been like for the Farnhill WW1 Volunteers.

Read more about Life and employment in Farnhill in 1911.