Eight months after unveiling the memorial to the Chorley Pals in the town, the charity are set to launch a major heritage project across the Borough.
The official launch of the project will be on Friday, 15th October with a walk from the Chorley Pals Memorial on the town’s Flat Iron Market, down to Astley Hall. The walk mirrors the launch of the Chorley Pals Memorial appeal on the 23rd February 2007 which eventually led to over £107,000 being raised for the statue that was unveiled in the town three years later.
Starting at 12.00 noon, and led by Lindsay Hoyle, it will head for Astley Hall through Astley Park, passing the Cenotaph along the way. At 1.00 p.m. in the Hall there will be presentations by Lindsay Hoyle, local historian Steve Williams (who devised the project) and full-time Project Manager, Nikki Davidson-Kerr who will outline the project and how local companies, organisations and individuals can get involved.
The project needs to raise some £17,500 as matched funding but Trustees are confident that it will be raised in the next twelve months. The project has already received financial support from the Chorley Building Society, who have also provided office facilities for the project at their Head Office in the town.
A major feature of the two-year remembrance themed project will be researching and placing the names of the fallen from Chorley onto the town’s Cenotaph in Astley Park – something that did not happen when it was unveiled in 1924. Once initial research has been completed, an application will be made to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a further £250,000 to complete the project which will include work on preserving the 1914 -1918 Memorial Arch at the entrance to the park, improving access and interpretation around the Chorley Pals memorial site, and upgrading facilities at Astley Hall where the small memorial room only features the First World War.
The project aims to encourage individuals to research their own family’s involvement in conflicts over the years, as well as assisting groups, churches or surrounding villages with research into their military connections. The initial funding will allow the staging of talks, workshops and exhibitions, as well as creating a new website; second round funding will provide an education / teaching resource pack for the 56 primary and secondary schools across the Borough and create a heritage trail linking the major remembrance sites in the town.
There are plans to have a ‘Chorley Remembers Day’ in Astley Park during July 2011, to publish a book about the men and women from the town who died in conflicts from the Boer War to modern times, as well as recording people’s memories on video and audio formats.
The project also hopes to encourage former workers of the Royal Ordnance Factory in Euxton, a suburb of Chorley, to record their memories of working at the munitions factory during the Second World War and beyond.
Commenting on the launch of the project, Lindsay Hoyle said “I cordially invite everyone to join me on the 15th. I said at the Pals Memorial unveiling in February that our work will continue and we are pleased to keep that promise. The Pals statue created so much interest in the town and I know this new project will capitalise on that interest and put Chorley to the forefront in understanding and preserving its heritage”.
Echoing those sentiments, Project Manager and Chorley resident Nikki Davidson-Kerr said “We want more people in the town, young and old, to have a greater understanding what local men and women, and their families, went through in the numerous conflicts over the years. This new heritage project will enable them to find out more and, importantly, encourage them to get involved in learning about the town’s social and military history”.