New commemorative First World War book and exhibition to launch in Otley

Historian and project member Bill Mulholland (centre, holding book), with fellow Otley Museum volunteers (Left to right): John Wenmoth, Jill Allman, Jim Caswell, Neil Adams, Meryl Auty, Andrew Howard, and Sue Teasdale.

Historian and project member Bill Mulholland (centre, holding book), with fellow Otley Museum volunteers (Left to right): John Wenmoth, Jill Allman, Jim Caswell, Neil Adams, Meryl Auty, Andrew Howard, and Sue Teasdale.

First published in Local news by

A NEW commemorative booklet and exhibition about Otley's role during the First World War will be unveiled next week.

Legacies of War: Untold Otley Stories shines a light on the men who were sent off to fight, the home front, and the aftermath.

Full of atmospheric photographs, its chapters deal with everything from the 10th West Riding (Otley) Howitzer Battery to the experience of Belgian refugees and the roles played by local industry and places like Chevin Hall.

The work's foundation was provided by local historian and museum volunteer Bill Mulholland, who began researching the men named on Otley's First World War memorial in 1995.

He said: "My great uncle, Pat Devaney, was an Otley man and, though wounded twice, survived the war and was awarded medals, including the Military Medal for bravery.

"He would never speak of his experiences and it was my interest in researching the circumstances under which he was awarded the medal that first took me to the Somme in 1986.

"The terrible slaughter of July 1, 1916 as evidenced by the row upon row of headstones, made a profound impression. As a result I made a promise that when I retired I would research those Otley men who never returned."

The resulting booklet, written by a team of Otley Museum volunteers, will go on sale beside an accompanying exhibition at Otley Core Resource Centre on Monday, August 4 - the 100th anniversary of Britain declaring war on Germany.

A museum spokesman said: "The articles reflect specific interests of the different authors and key themes relating to this period in Otley.

"The aim is not to give a comprehensive account but to give some idea of the effect of this war on families in the community - and on those who temporarily became part of the community.

"Despite having limited access to our temporary premises and our artefacts having been in store since May, 2010, our volunteers have brought objects out from the Museum Collection to mount this exhibition."

Supported by a Heritage Lottery Fund award, the publication gives fascinating insights into life in the town, when the grounds of Farnley Hall served as a massive training camp which became home to the Northern Command Grenade

and Gas School.

It also contains letters home from local troops away training or fighting, and the museum was delighted by the public's support. It said: "People have come forward with their own stories relating to this major event which touched most

families.

"We hope the exhibition and booklet will inspire people to come forward with yet more stories or pursue their own research."

Copies of the booklet will be available at the Core, from Monday, priced £1. The exhibition, along with a display of helmets and medals, will run at the venue until November 11.

More details and images connected to Untold Otley Stories can be viewed at http://ww1otleymuseum.moonfruit.com/ , and the museum will also be showcasing it at its temporary base, on Crow Lane, during Heritage Open Days in

September.

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