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Salford events to remember the battle of the Somme


Hundreds of Salford men killed at the brutal battle of The Somme will be remembered 100 years on.

Salford is planning a weekend of events in July to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Britain’s most brutal battle – including the world premier of a new, musical tribute.

Around 650 Salford men – most of them in the Salford pals battalions of the Lancashire Fusiliers – died on 1 July, the first day of one of the battles, fighting near Thiepval Village. Salford was badly affected by the tragic loss of life and for years July 1 was remembered in Salford as Thiepval Day.

Thiepval today hosts the largest British battle memorial in the world, commemorating the 72,195 missing British and commonwealth men who fell on the Somme battlefield and have no known grave.

On Friday 1 July 2016 – 100 years on civic leaders, school children, musicians and the general public will pay tribute to them as part of the national day of commemoration.

Friday 1 July

7.30am – the exact time of the battle began will be met with a peal of bells at Sacred Trinity Church, the parish church of the Salford Pals, followed by a memorial service in Fire Station Square with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

8.15am to 7.00pm – Salford Museum & Art Gallery cafe open. Museum will open from 10.00am – 4.45pm.

10.00am – 4.45pm – Salford Museum & Art Gallery will be showing (on loop) the 1916 film The Battle of the Somme, courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, with a small World War One display of handling objects.

11.00am – Salford City Council memorial ceremony at the Civic Centre, Swinton. Wreaths will be laid in memory of all the Salford men who died and of more than 200 council workers who fell.

1.00-2.00pm – Salford schools commemorative music performance, Peel Hall, University of Salford, M5 4WT. Tickets are free but please book tickets online(link is external) in advance.

A free concert performed by children from Moorside High School, Swinton High School and St Ambrose Barlow RC High School. In a project led by Professor Stephen Davismoon, the pupils have been composing works inspired by popular tunes of the day.

The concert will also feature performances by groups from Salford’s Music and Performing Arts Service (MAPAS).

2.00pm – 3.00pm – WW1 Talk: Remembering 1st July 1916; Thiepval Day in Salford, Salford Museum and Art Gallery. Free, No booking required.

The talk will give some background to the conflict, including the recruitment of the Salford Pals and the background they came from. We will discuss the disastrous battle for Thiepval on 1st July 1916 and the way information of the losses arrived in Salford. Many men were killed, wounded or captured, but many were missing. We will look at individual stories of the battle and the men involved.

3.00-3.45pm & 5.00-5.45pm – Honour Choir, New Adelphi Amphitheatre, The Crescent, Salford, M5 4WT.

Music and spoken word performance to remember the First World War.

These are free un-ticketed outdoor concerts – there is no need to book, just come along on the day.

6.00pm – Opening of the Book of Condolence, Lower Maxwell Hall, University of Salford

7.00pm for a 7.30pm performance: Thiepval Memorial Concert, Maxwell Hall, The Crescent, M5 4WT. Tickets are free but please book tickets online(link is external) in advance.

The Thiepval Memorial Concert at Maxwell Hall will feature the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, The Manchester Chamber Choir and special guests including Michael Seal (conductor), Taylor Wilson (mezzo soprano) and Gordon Munro (narrator).

The first part of the concert will feature music by three UK composers who served on the Somme; George Butterworth, Ivor Gurney and Cecil Coles.

The second half of the concert will feature the world premiere of a specially commissioned composition by the University of Salford’s Professor Stephen Davismoon ‘God’s Own Caught In No Man’s Land’, specially composed for the occasion including real people’s experiences and war poetry from Salford-born Winifred Letts set to music. It will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

Sunday 3 July

Salford Armed Forces Veterans Network will hold services at St Clement’s Church, Ordsall (morning), and the Royal British Legion, Pendleton (afternoon).

Morning: Service at St Clements Church, Grove Avenue, Ordsall – 10.00-11.00am

Present will be the Lord Lieutenant, The Ceremonial Mayor of Salford, Salford MP’s, and The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. The Honour Choir will be providing the music and there will be various speakers around the subject of Salford and the Some.

Afternoon: Pendleton Royal British Legion, Langworthy Road, Salford – 12-4.00pm

The Band of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and Corps of Drums and Dom Collins. Buffet included.

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Tony Flynn

SalfordOnline.com's Local History Editor and Senior Reporter.