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Empire Day, May 1914
Parade of the Matlock Branch of the National Reserve and the Fire Brigade.
 



'Empire Day was commemorated on Sunday by a Parade of the National Reservists and the Fire Brigade and a Drumhead service held in the band kiosk in the Park. Fortunately the weather held fine for the service and parade and the event attracted considerable attention.

The fall in was at two p.m. at the Drill Hall and Captain F. C. ARKWRIGHT, D.L., J.P, the officer commanding the Branch at Matlock, was present, together with the secretary, Quartermaster H. CLAY.

The Parade was about forty strong, and headed by the Matlock United Silver Prize Band, which played most inspiring music to and from the service, and also led the hymns with great ability. The men on parade included:

Captain ARKWRIGHT
Quartermaster J. NUTTALL [Hon. Treasurer]
Quartermaster H. CLAY
Col. Sergt. Jas. GIBBS
Drum-Major W. COCKING
Sergt. J. TUMMON
Sergt. F. WHITE
  Ptes.:
E. W. BARNES
F. C. BALGUY
W. BARTON
W. BUCKLEY
W. KIRKLAND
J. H. HOUSLEY
G. HODGKINSON
J. K. BAGSHAW
W. EYRE
J. H. BROWNSON
C. McCREARY
R. TAYLOR
F.C. GIBBS
J. TRAVIS
C. WILDGOOSE
J. WILDGOOSE
JAS. ALLEN
J. BOSWELL
E. F. HOPKINSON
H. EVANS
J. RADFORD
H. EVERITT
W. G. STONE
W. GRATTON
F. D. BAXTER
J. H. BLAYMIRE
Jos. JOHNSON
Jno. READER
Corpls:
T. BRIDGE
B. T. TALBOT
C. J. CROFT
Lce Corpls.:
W. ELLIS
T. ALLWOOD
Trooper:
W.J. WARD
 


The Fire Brigade, under Captain NUTTALL, turned out in their new uniforms and looked very smart and up-to-date.

On reaching Causeway lane the parade was continued to the southern end of the Park, and then a circuit was completed by the Broad Walk until the band kiosk was reached.

Here the Rev. A. W. SCOTT, the chaplain of St. John's Church, Matlock Dale, conducted the service and was assisted by his surpliced choir.

The hymns were sung with great spirit, especially the ever popular "Onward Christian Soldiers."
THE REV. GENTLEMAN, as usual, delivered a most appropriate sermon.'[1]

The previous year scholars in the Matlock district had celebrated Empire Day "right loyally". The following afternoon there was a parade of Territorials, Boy Scouts, and members of the National Reserve, followed by an address in the park by the Rev. A. W. Scott[2].

It is interesting to compare the above names from the 1914 parade with those listed on the Matlock War Memorial (see Surnames A - J and Surnames K - W). At the outbreak of war later in the same year men volunteered for active service. Conscription for unmarried men came into being in 1916 and was followed shortly afterwards by the conscription of married men aged 18 to 41 years of age. Without looking up too many names it is likely that most of the men listed above were too old to serve. But they all undoubtedly played an active part in recruitment.

An earlier report, of the annual meeting, said the branch was very successful and had grown rapidly since it was formed in October 1912. By the time of that meeting members already numbered 128. Captain Arkwright said 'the Branch was a Register of men who had served their King and country to be ready to duty in an emergency.' Arkwright joked that 'even if they were beyond the limit of age they might find themselves able to do good. (Hear, hear). By joining the Branch they had the satisfaction of knowing they were willing, if not able, to do anything they were required to do'[3]. He could not have foretold what was to come, as these men saw their sons, grandsons and nephews off to a war they would not return from.

Empire Day began as a celebration of Queen Victoria's birthday on 24 May. In 1900 the Dundee newspaper reported the following:

"Her Majesty was recently asked privately by a member of the Royal Household whether she approved of the idea of Empire Day, to be celebrated on the anniversary her birth. "That," was Her Majesty's reply, "is a matter for my people, but it would be pleasant to think that the whole of my people were united in thanksgivings for the blessings that the Empire enjoys".
There can be little doubt that the Queen, who has witnessed with pleasure the growth of the unity of the Empire, would regard with great favour a movement for setting apart a day of rejoicing and an exchange of good wishes throughout the Empire. But the proposal must come from the people themselves"[4].

Today this celebration has become Commonwealth Day and is normally celebrated slightly earlier in the year.



Photos of the fire brigade, resplendent in their new uniforms, can be found in the Vernon Lamb Archive:


VLA4981

VLA4893

VLA4986

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Matlock
Matlock Bath
The War Memorials
Newspaper Cuttings, Matlock
Links to Modern Local Newspapers & National Archives
Read old local papers at
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Matlock Miscellany
FAQ
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Matlock's National Reserve, 1914



Royal Christmas Card 1914

References:

[1] Article, including all the names, was published in the High Peak News report: 30th May 1914.

[2] "Sheffield Daily Telegraph", 24 May 1913. Matlock.

[3] High Peak News, 14th February 1914.

[4] "Dundee Evening Post", 9 May 1900. Empire Day. Interesting Expression of Royal Opinion.