At 9.30am tomorrow morning, a train carrying three headstones will leave Middleton, replicating the journey made by 120,000 similar headstones on their way to Belgium and France after the end of the First World War.
Martin Smith, chairman of the Steeple Grange Light Railway had the idea for the “unique commemoration”, which will see the headstones, made from Hopton Wood Stone, carried on the same track bed that was originally used.
A new railway wagon has been made with the livery in the style of the original Hopton Wood Stone Company.
Two of the stones will be taken by horse drawn gun carriage to be part of the Remembrance services in Wirksworth at St Mary’s Church.
One will then go on to the Memorial Gardens for installation and other to Middleton for an afternoon service in Holy Trinity Church before being installed in the village.
The services will be attended by two Chelsea Pensioners in full uniform, an honour generally reserved for major events attended by the Queen in London.
Some of the pews will be occupied by transparent silhouettes which are part of the There But Not There initiative to represent the fallen from the community.
The third stone will be dedicated at Steeple House Station, at the side of what was the Cromford and High Peak Railway, and is now the High Peak Trail.
Remembrance in Derby: More First World War nostalgia
Mr Smith said: “We think this will be a unique commemoration – replica stones being taken along the original railway.
“The gun carriage is also very special as it is the one which carried the remains of Richard III.”
The three headstones have been made in Middleton using stone donated by Longcliffe Quarry and engraved by Middleton mason Colin Julien.
Colin’s company L Petts, dates back over one hundred years and his great grandfather was foreman mason at the quarry when the original headstones were produced.
The project also involves Wirksworth WW1 Group , Middleton Parish Council & Village Green Committee and is funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund, The Tarmac Landfill Communities Fund , Better Derbyshire Dales Fund, Derbyshire County and Derbyshire Dales District councillors, Steeple Grange Light Railway, Wirksworth Rotary, Wirksworth Town Council, Wirksworth WW1 Group, Wirksworth Hidden Gardens and Courtyards and Middleton Parish Council.
In 2014, marking the one hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of war, a commemorative stone was set into the wall of a building on the site of a workshop of Middleton Quarry: this building now forms the headquarters of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.
The Hopton Wood Stone Company in Middleton-by-Wirksworth, produced the headstones from the early 1920s and became a major contractor for the Imperial War Graves Commission.
They were made from the locally-quarried Hopton Wood limestone, which has also been used for the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Derbyshire’s Chatsworth House.
Stone masons from all over the country travelled to Derbyshire to cut, dress, polish and engrave the headstones in preparation for their journey to France and Belgium.
The timetable for this day long commemoration is:
9.30am: Headstones carried by rail from Middleton to Steeple House Station – One stone to be dedicated there at 1pm.
10am: Headstone taken in horse drawn carriage to Wirksworth
10.50am: Remembrance Day service at St Mary`s Church
11.45am: Procession from St Mary`s to Memorial Gardens for installation of the Wirksworth stone
2.15pm: Third stone taken to Middleton for the
2.30pm: Remembrance Service at Holy Trinity Church and later installation.
To download the iOS app click here.
To download the Android app click here.
- Warrior Wakanda hailed by Danny Cook after popular and poignant Peter Marsh Chase win at Haydock
- Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Champions to Earn Trip to NASCAR Acceleration Weekend
- Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Foundation wins NASCAR award
- Toyota to Unveil 2009 F1 Car Tomorrow Via Webcast
- D-Day anniversary truly puts hockey, life in perspective
- Aston Martin DB11: delivering a Christmas tree from Scotland to London
- Emiliano Sala’s haunting final WhatsApp calls reveal he was terrified doomed plane would ‘fall apart’
- Emiliano Sala begged pals to ‘send someone to find me’ in chilling voice note minutes before doomed plane went down
- Emiliano Sala begged pals to ‘send someone to find me’ in chilling Whatsapp voice note minutes before doomed plane went down
- 'Thurman Thomas: A Football Life' scores on multiple levels