Memories of the Great War

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No Caption ABCDE ANL-140620-132933001

News from the South Holland Centre

Did you know that the South Holland Centre houses a memorial to the First World War?

Back in 1919 Dr Ernest Farrow, owner of an engineering firm in the town, chaired the first meeting of the War Memorial, Chiming Clock and Carillon Committee whose object was to provide suitable war memorials to honour the fallen of World War One by public and private donations.

The decision was to provide a Cenotaph in Ayscoughfee Gardens, and a chiming clock and carillon on the roof of The Corn Exchange (where the South Holland Centre now stands).

What is a carillon I hear you ask?

A carillon is a musical instrument consisting of at least 23 bells which can be struck to play a tune, typically housed in a bell tower.

Eventually enough money was raised to purchase 23 bells – some of which were inscribed with the name of local men who died in the war and some to local subscribers – but there were insufficient funds for their installation.

In the early 1930s a bell tower and an amateur-built playing mechanism were constructed but this proved unsatisfactory and the carillon lapsed into silence.

Upon the replacement of the Corn Exchange with the first South Holland Centre building in 1974 the carillon was restored to playing condition, via a keyboard and music roll. But when the latter wore out and could not be replaced, the carillon was silent once more.

Finally when the Centre was completely reconstructed in 1998, a handsome bell tower was built so that the rare, restored carillon could be seen as well as heard, and it has since been played by a number of distinguished musicians.

So in this WW1 centenary year, when you are next passing by the Centre, look up and remember.

Those interested in local First World War history will also be interested in a special live event at the Centre on November 5 this year.

Barbed Wire for Kisses is the name of an evocative live music and storytelling performance by Lincolnshire company Adverse Camber.

They wanted to tell the story of Lincolnshire people during that War and so have created the production after extensive research of the Lincolnshire Archives.

With thanks to Ted Crampton for providing background information on the carillon.