PREPARATIONS are now well underway for Holmes Chapel’s commemoration of the First World War.

In November last year the history group of the Holmes Chapel and District U3A received £7,750 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Holmes Chapel Parish Council for a project ‘Holmes Chapel During WW1’.

It will focus on reporting the research into life in Holmes Chapel during the war period including both the servicemen who went to war and life for those left behind.

To mark the centenary of the First World War, the project will enable people in Holmes Chapel and Cranage to come together to preserve the memories and heritage of the people who lived through the First World War.

An exhibition is planned over the weekend of August 9 and 10 in St Luke’s Church hall to allow the community to see the work of the volunteers.

The work of the 12 members of the U3A History Group covers the lives of more than 200 servicemen, 29 of whom died, who went to war from the local community of about 1500 people.

In addition the group are studying what life was like in the village during this time by examining the parish magazines and newspapers of the period as well as many other sources.

Several families of Belgian refugees were stationed in the village, the agricultural college was training women to work on the farms and there was a military hospital at Somerford on the road to Congleton.

The group are producing 10 leaflets covering aspects of their research and the exhibition will try and illustrate the story in various ways.

As well as information displays there will be a brass ensemble playing tunes of the period and various artefacts of the time will be on display.

In addition, research has turned up a Red Cross pattern book of clothing to be made by villagers of the time for the troops in hospital.

This covered socks and scarves as well as night attire and a ‘Helpless Case Shirt’. A group of volunteers from the U3A are now making some of these clothes to be part of the display.

Village schools have been kept informed of the work and it is hoped they will be able to make a contribution to the exhibition.

A web site is being developed and some information is already available at

John Clowes, the leader of the group, said: “We were delighted to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the team are hard at work developing ideas for the exhibition.

“It is great that so many people are interested in our project and are getting involved to bring home to the community what life was like for Holmes Chapel at the time.”