Lights out in Ribble Valley for First World War

Clitheroe WW1 commemorations.
Clitheroe WW1 commemorations.

A dove tree was planted in the grounds of Clitheroe Castle on Monday in an emotive ceremony to mark 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War.

The tree was then surrounded by a garden of light comprising hundreds of tealight candles in remembrance of local young men who lost their lives during the war.

Mayor of the Ribble Valley Coun. Michael Ranson planted the tree at a site near Clitheroe Castle gates at 6pm, before lighting a candle in memory of his great-uncle, James Ranson, who died, aged 22, at Ypres on October 6th, 1915.

Jim, as he was known to family and friends, was a medical officer and died from shrapnel wounds sustained at the Battle of Loos while treating wounded soldiers.

Members of the public were invited to light their own candle in memory of a specific person, the borough’s fallen or as a call to peace. Afterwards, prayers for peace were led by the Rev. Mark Pickett, rector of St James’ Church, Clitheroe.

The event marked the start of a commemorative campaign that will see oak trees bearing plaques in memory of Ribble Valley’s fallen planted in the borough’s 35 parishes over the coming months.

Events were held nationwide on Monday to mark the 100th anniversary of Britain becoming involved in the First World War. From 2014 until the 100th anniversary of the official ceasefire, or Armistice Day, on November 11th, 2018, communities worldwide will come together to remember those who lived, fought and died in the Great War.

Candles were allowed to burn out before Clitheroe Castle was plunged into darkness at 10pm as part of the national Lights Out campaign. At 11pm on August 4th, 1914, Britain declared war on Germany, ushering in one of the darkest periods in history.

As the moment approached, British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey made the famous remark: “The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”

And in a dramatic nationwide event, the UK plunged itself into darkness between 10 and 11pm marking the hour Britain entered the war.

Lighting was turned off on public and iconic buildings across the country, including Blackpool Illuminations, Houses of Parliament and Tower Bridge.

The First World War was a turning point in world history, claiming the lives of 16 million people across the world and having a huge impact on those who experienced it. Millions of men fought on land, at sea and in the air, with modern weapons causing mass casualties.

As Ribble Valley did not exist until 1974, precise records of the number of fallen in the borough do not exist, but it is believed to be around 1,000.

Ribble Valley Borough Council will host numerous First World War commemorative events over the coming year. On Sunday, a civic service was held at Clitheroe Parish Church led by the Rev. Andy Froud and including a reading by Coun. Ranson.