A series of civic events will be held in Rugby to commemorate the start of the First World War.
The first will be a civic service hosted by St Andrew’s church. The service will start at 3pm on Sunday August 3.
The following night, Monday August 4, Rugby will take part in the national ‘lights out’ act of remembrance. The lights will be switched off for one hour at the Whitehall war memorial, William Webb Ellis statue, town hall, and art gallery and museum, leaving just a single light shining at each location.
Then, on Tuesday August 5, Rugby town centre will host a commemorative parade re-enacting the moment that enthusiastic young recruits signed-up and marched off to war, one hundred years ago. This will be followed by a reflective open-air service in Caldecott Park.
The day will start with an opportunity for families and individuals to experience a First World War enlisting station at the Rugby Art Gallery and Museum. Having ‘signed up’, registrants will be given their own recruiting pack including an armband and replica Gospel of St John, donated by Rugby Revive. The recruits will be given their first wage packet consisting of a complimentary town centre voucher.
After being put through a medical with a First World War nurse, recruits will undertake rudimentary drills and training led by re-enactors, while art activities will also be available.
Participants will then be invited to ‘fall-in’ behind a military band and mounted cavalry, before parading through the town centre. Onlookers will be able to cheer the parade on and wave Union flags as it passes.
After arriving in Caldecott Park, the parade will assemble around the bandstand for an open-air service led by Rev Imogen Nay, rector of St Andrew’s, which will also include a ceremony marking the centenary of the bandstand itself. There will be opportunities to remember the loss of life on both sides of the war during this service.
At the conclusion of the service activities will continue in the park, including demonstration of a replica First World War tank, military displays, and arts projects led by Rugby Borough Council’s Art Gallery and Museum service.
The programme has been put together by Rugby Borough Council, with a significant contribution from voluntary and community organisations. All Rugby residents are welcome to attend the events.
In addition, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum has been awarded a Heritage Lottery Grant of £6,200 to run a First World War project call ‘Fall in’. The project will focus on local troops, training and the impact of the war in Rugby.
The project will take place through a range of research, events, talks and workshops. These will include weekly poppy-making sessions and schools workshops with historical re-enactors. There is more information at http://www.ragm.co.uk/.
Borough councillor Heather Timms, who is responsible for cultural matters, said: “History has recorded the First World War as a horrific event, but 100 years ago, in August 1914, communities were looking forward to going to war.
“I am sure that families in Rugby will want to join us in marking this occasion, and will also want to remember their relatives’ sacrifices.
“It is important that we commemorate events such as these, and I’m sure our communities will come together to mark the occasion as generations have before us.”
Residents will be able to take part in the re-enactment and parade free of charge, but are asked to register in advance at www.rugby.gov.uk/WW1 or by calling the visitor centre on (01788) 533217.
There will be further commemorative events over the next four years, while this year’s Rugby in Bloom competition is also marking the centenary.