A town at war: an exhibition at the Royal Pump Room Museum

13 July 2014

A TOWN AT WAR: Harrogate during The First World War ROYAL PUMP ROOM MUSEUM, Sat 26 July to Wed 31 December 2014

Discover the extraordinary stories of ordinary people from the Harrogate area in a new exhibition commemorating The Great War at the Royal Pump Room Museum, Harrogate. These are revealed through letters, photographs and personal objects on loan from local families as well as selected items from the museum collection.

Find out more about three local Victoria Cross winners, the highest military decoration awarded for valour in the face of the enemy: Harrogate man Donald Bell killed at the Battle of Somme in 1916 and also the first professional footballer to enlist when the First World War broke out, Charles Hull (from Harrogate), and Archie White (from Boroughbridge).

Learn more about Betty Stephenson, who at the age of 19 left Harrogate to go and work in an YMCA canteen for the soldiers in France and Grand Duchess George of Russia who funded four hospitals in Harrogate during the First World War and also worked in them herself nursing the wounded soldiers.


Photographs of two Harrogate brothers, George and Eddie Chapman who both served in the First World War (George in the Machine Gun Corp and Eddie in the Royal Navy) are being loaned to the museum by their nephew, who said: It’s nice to have them remembered as men from Harrogate, ordinary rank and file men who were doing their duty”

He has also contributed a button from Eddie’s Royal Navy tunic, which was worn, after Eddie’s death in 1916, by his brother George for the rest of the war until his death in October 1918.

Read a selection of fascinating letters, sent home from Harrogate men serving in the war, which reveal the conditions that they were struggling with in the trenches and provide an insight into the combat and dangers they faced.

A Town at War is curated by Harrogate’s Social History Curator Nic Baxter said: We are focusing on personal stories relating to people’s wartime experiences and the impact of the Great War on people from the Harrogate area. Themes explored include ‘Harrogate’s Heroes’, ‘Life in the trenches’, ‘Convalescence’ and ‘Letters from the front’, there is also a special section where First World War objects belonging to the ancestors of the Museum’s and Arts staff are displayed.


Stories of valour include that of Capt. Henry Watson Lindsley who was awarded The Military Cross for “conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty” when he and a sergeant carried water from a shell-hole to put out the fire caused by the shelling of an ammunition dump, thereby saving a lot of ammunition. Lindsley was a civil engineer who worked on the building of the new market hall in Harrogate that opened in 1939.
A TOWN AT WAR: Harrogate during The First World War will be at The Royal Pump Room Museum, Crown Place, Harrogate, HG1 2RY from 26 July to the 31 December 2014, and visitors to the exhibition will be encouraged to write down their own family war stories.

For more information visit Tel: 01423 556188 email museums@Harrogate.gov.uk, or visit the museums facebook page /HarrogateMuseum

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