Town to be transformed into a scene from 1914 this Saturday

A recruitment day on The Square in Market Harborough in 1914 (picture courtsey of the Harborough Museum archives)
A recruitment day on The Square in Market Harborough in 1914 (picture courtsey of the Harborough Museum archives)

The First World War returns to Harborough in 3D and full colour on Saturday.

That’s when the town will be transported back in time by an ambitious open-air re-enactment of an army recruitment day from 1914.

The event, on The Square at 11am this Saturday, and repeated again at midday, will involve actors, air cadet “extras” in military period uniforms and also suitably patriotic music from the Harborough Band.

It’s all about giving modern-day Harborians a real flavour of what life was like 100 years ago in the town, at the over-optimistic start of the First World War.

Jane Tugwell, the local coordinator from the Harborough Museum Trust, said it was all about entering into the spirit of the wartime years that have now completely slipped from living memory.

She said: “Obviously, we want lots of crowds to watch this unique event.”

Members of the air cadets in period uniforms will play the part of enlisted men supporting an army recruitment officer appealing to the assembled crowd to “join up”.

Other cadets in civilian clothes of the era will step forward to volunteer.

Members of Market Harborough Drama Society will play army officers.

Other members and volunteers will be playing the roles of “Votes for Women” suffragettes in the crowd.

But the Saturday event is not just about the excitement and sense of patriotic adventure of the very early years of the war.

The pageant will then move on to the grim reality of the later war years.

The crowds will see wounded soldiers returning home to Harborough, and hear readings from some actual letters sent home, taken from the Harborough Museum archives.

One of the letters, for example, was sent to an R&WH Symington corset factory worker by a soldier on the front line.

The event will then draw to a sombre close with a reading of a list of the Harborough men who were killed in the First World War.

Finally, the Last Post will be played by a cadet bugler.