‘… the atmosphere that was created was very moving’ – comment by a year 9 pupil after a trip to the Somme, July 2016
The Hundredth Anniversary of the first day of the Battle of Givenchy – when the 55th (West Lancashire) Division fought off a massive German attack – will occur on 9th April 2018. It will be a good moment to visit the ground upon which so many soldiers from the North-West of England fought and are commemorated.
We will explore the landscape by either minibus or small coach (depending upon numbers) and on foot, taking in remnants of the battlefield and the many associated memorials and cemeteries. Real soldiers’ stories will be woven into our visits, giving many opportunities for discussion, reflection and commemoration. Continue reading →
The above words are the title of an article appearing in the ‘Birkenhead News’ of 31st July 1915. I discovered it on 8th August 2012 in Wirral Archives and it rather took me by surprise, firstly because I was not expecting to read any detailed references to African people in the local press and secondly because of the largely favourable way in which John (or Jack) Libby (or Lebby) was described. Here is the article in full:
The Birkenhead News of 31st July 1915 Reports on the Death of John (Jack) Libby in Birkenhead
I taught history in Kendal for 13 years. During that time, I, my colleagues and my pupils carried out several interesting projects relating to the Great War. In about 2005, I challenged my year 9 pupils to research the lives of the soldiers recorded on the town’s war memorial. Two young men embraced the challenge with gusto and wrote notes about every local soldier who is buried in Parkside Cemetery. One of them told me that he had never learned so much history before, which is exactly what I wanted to hear.
Ellesmere Port is a remarkable place. It lies on the banks of the River Mersey, at the southern end of the Wirral Peninsula. It grew as a result of its links with the Midlands via the Ellesmere Canal (later called the Shropshire Union Canal) and access to Liverpool, Manchester and the wider world via the Manchester Ship Canal and River Mersey. Two ironworks arrived early in the 20th century – Burnell’s in 1903 and The Wolverhampton Corrugated Iron Company in 1905. By 1911 the two works were employing over 3,000 people between them and the town’s population had risen by 142.5 percent since 1901.
Ellesmere Port on the 1912 6-inch O.S. Map. Notice the two ironworks north and south of the railway line and Oldfield Road (where the Lodge Family lived) and Cambridge Road (where the Lodge children attended school) in the bottom left corner.
The First George Yoxall on Middlewich War Memorial
The Second George Yoxall on Middlewich War Memorial
For a couple of years, we had a base in Middlewich. It was a remarkable coincidence because my wife and I are sixth cousins via the Yoxall family, which must have begun in the village of Yoxall in Staffordshire, but, in the 18th and 19th centuries, lived in the Cheshire village of Sprowston near Middlewich. We are descended from Moses Yoxall (born in about 1700), our six greats grandfather. During my frequent strolls around Middlewich I noticed the town war memorial and saw the two Yoxalls – G. and G.W.; there is also a George Yoxall on nearby Winsford War Memorial; his inscription appears at the top of this post. I wanted to know firstly whether they were related to each other and secondly whether they were related to my wife and I.