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Buxton and WW1

Buxton and WW1

Written by Netta Christie on November 17, 2014

Our role in an exhibition at Whaley Bridge and the launch of a new history experience for 2015

As part of our ongoing commitment to bringing the history of Buxton alive we worked last year with two local men who, as re enactors, vividly brought the period of the First World War alive with their authentic uniforms and extensive knowledge of the type of warfare undertaken.


Since then the re-enactors have taken their story into schools and we have further researched the role of the Devonshire Royal Hospital during the conflict. I have been particularly interested in the experiences of Vera Brittain who decided it was her duty to leave Oxford, where she was studying, and return to Buxton during the summer of 1915 to work as a nursing assistant tending wounded soldiers


I was interviewed about her experiences by BBC radio Derby during the summer and you can listen to an extract here

The Dome’s patients kept an autograph album during the war, detailing their names, regiments, where they were injured and when they went home.

The wounded came from battles including the Somme and Gallipoli – but one gunner apparently received his injuries in Newcastle-on-Tyne during a Zeppelin raid in 1915!


At this time there was no NHS and we discovered, whilst doing our research for the tour, that a Mr. Pugh, the pharmacist of Clowes Chemist, and one time mayor of Buxton held garden parties in the grounds of the Devonshire Royal Hospital to raise money to purchase bandages and drugs for the returning wounded. As many as 5,400 soldiers were treated at the hospital

On Sat 22nd November from 10-12, at the Uniting Church in Whaley Bridge, we will be bringing our living history event to an exhibition remembering those who lost their lives, and to provide an insight into how the war affected people living in Whaley Bridge and nearby. Various war artefacts from the period will also be on display to show things which would have been familiar to the soldiers at the front.

The event will also see the launch of several local history books of the period and interestingly there will be an archiving facility where people can bring along paperwork or other materials and have them scanned or photographed, without the material leaving their sight,

We will be presenting our living history experience again in the New Year but this time in the Dome itself. Once again you will be able to see and hear the soldiers singing and explaining about the mood and the feelings of people at the onset of war in 1914.

Over the course of the war attitudes changed from the initial recruitment songs, patriotic sheet music and poems which were everywhere, to the more questioning lyrics of the later years. I hope you will come and see us at Whaley Bridge which is a free event or join us on one of our history experiences in the Dome next year.


Love from Netta and the tram team!



Written by Netta Christie

Netta is the tram's conductor (and founder of Discover Buxton). She's passionate about Buxton; its fascinating past and the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of its independent businesses and local artists. She is the person who you will talk to if you want to book a tour or have any other requests.

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