Friday, 5 May 2017

Behind the scenes

Andy Robertshaw (
Andy Robertshaw (
On Friday 28 April, Staindrop History Group hosted their first event at Scarth Hall, a talk by Andy Robertshaw on his role as military adviser on the film War Horse, followed by a showing of the film. 

Andy’s talk was a most interesting, funny, and revealing insight into film making (I’m the kind of person who watches the ‘making of’ DVD extras). He also explained how, even with a military adviser, a film may not be accurate (artistic licence, filming constraints, audience expectation). 

Durham at War took a display along to the event. Long term followers of the project will know that we have our own war horse story, that of George Thompson of Sunderland. He worked with horses as a transport driver with 7th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry (DLI), throughout the war. After it, he wrote up his experiences for his then two year old daughter, Gracie, who later deposited the memoir in the DLI Collection. Last year, it was used as a source for The Soldier’s Hymn, written by Carol Ann Duffy with music by Jessica Curry, for Durham Hymns. You can read a full transcript of the memoir on Durham at War:
Corporal George Thompson, centre back, and fellow DLI Pioneers on the Marne, France, July 1918 (D/DLI 7/700/31)
D/DLI 7/700/31 Corporal George Thompson, centre back, and fellow DLI Pioneers on the Marne, France, July 1918
Also at the event were the Royal Dragoon Guards Museum, up from York with a variety of weapons on display (they seemed to manoeuvre the long lance/spear through the doors with more ease than I managed our display boards). Bowes Museum were talking to people about their project ‘To Serve King and Country’ and an upcoming talk ‘Home Comforts: The Role of the Red Cross Auxiliary Hospitals’.

Staindrop History Group had their research into local First World War soldiers on display. The group however is not just interested in the First World War, but the social history of Staindrop; etymology of street names; architecture and ageing of the village, the impact of the Industrial Revolution and Railway on Staindrop to name a few areas! You can find out more about the group who organised this wonderful evening, and other upcoming events on their website at:

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