‘Always Remembered’ WW1 project description
At the start of 2016, M@HoT researcher Mike Bettison together with artist and musician Rupert Philbrick embarked on a journey to seek out the First World War memorials within the Heart of Teesdale landscape partnership boundaries. In doing so, they started to uncover the stories that lie within the names written in stone and on plaques up and down the dale.
Their aim was to create a digital record of each memorial’s location. Using field recording and photography, Rupert roamed across Teesdale finding secluded spaces and quiet places where each memorial stood, remembering those from each community that had served in the Great War.
M@HoT’s youth folk band Cream Tees played an integral part in the project, to begin with by learning folk tunes and songs contemporary to the conflict that were likely to be popular in Teesdale at the time, as identified by Mike Bettison. In also joining Mike and Rupert for one of their trips out in the dale, they were able to visit a range of different memorials from the Barnard Castle Post Office, graveyards, churches and public parks at The Bowes Museum.
As they visited each site, new stories came into focus, as well as the opportunity to develop their own thoughts and reflections both on the conflict 100 years ago – but also how it is seen now in the modern day.
These thoughts were taken into workshops, where they began to translate their ideas into music with Rupert – reflecting on their ideas, their own family histories and on objects they were able to examine from The Bowes Museum’s WW1 Archive.
To mark the centenary of the Battle of The Somme, and as the culmination of the project, M@HoT also organised a workshop and performance with renowned folk singer and concertina player John Kirkpatrick. Leading up to this event, Cream Tees worked with their tutors from the Traditional & Folk Music degree course at Newcastle University to learn some well-known First World War tunes such as It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, Redwing, Keep the Home Fires Burning, Your King and Country Wants You.
Meanwhile, our Longsword Dance team were putting together a new dance under the guidance of their tutor, Patrick Langdon, to the Tipperary tune. M@HoT’s seamstress and musician, Helen Bishop was busily making new ‘military-style’ costumes for their own special performance of the dance. Dance team member Emily Dods designed a new Teesdale Longsword Dance badge especially for the occasion too to match their new waistcoats.
A weekend workshop was held in June at The Hub in Barnard Castle and Bowes village hall with Niamh Boadle and Cream Tees’ long-term tutor Ian Stephenson along with Rupert and volunteer tutor, Sarah Boddy. This gave the Cream Tees youth folk band members the chance to develop original compositions, building on their reflections from visiting memorial sites and cemeteries. The young musicians experimented with drones and how to create atmosphere and ambience with their instruments. These were recorded by Rupert to compliment the field recordings from each of the memorial locations. You can hear them featuring as the soundtrack to each of the videos.
On Friday 8th July 2016, marking the centenary of the Battle of The Somme and bringing the project to a close, Cream Tees had a day’s workshop and tuition with John Kirkpatrick at Teesdale School, learning new ‘tunes from the trenches’ and getting ready for a wonderful performance that night at The Witham in Barnard Castle. The Teesdale Longsword Dance team performed their new dance on stage to a very appreciative audience. For their final number, the young musicians were joined on stage by John himself to sing a rousing rendition of ‘Good-bye-ee’ – a song he had taught them at the workshop that same afternoon.
We are very grateful to the Heart of Teesdale landscape partnership, Barnard Castle Town Council, the Mewhort Trust and Grass Roof Records who each helped fund the project.
For more information on regional First World War memorials and projects, please visit: