A devastating First World War maritime tragedy will be commemorated in Barnoldswick with a major exhibition during the weekend of September 6th and 7th.
The loss of hospital ship HMHS Rohilla off Whitby almost 100 years ago will be marked with a two-day event on Barnoldswick’s Town Square and include one of the RNLI lifeboats present at the disaster.
Disaster struck in an October storm as the Rohilla steamed towards Dunkirk to pick up casualties from the fighting in the first months of the First World War.
The steamship struck a reef off Whitby leading to a great loss of life. Of 15 Barnoldswick men on board, 12 perished in the catastrophe.
The centrepiece of the Heritage Weekend will be the Upgang lifeboat William Riley which took part in rescue attempts but smashed on rocks.
Alongside it will be a modern day inshore lifeboat as part of the RNLI presence at the exhibition and the weekend will also feature the premiere by members of the Whitby Theatre Group of new songs written to mark the 100th Anniversary of the Rohilla disaster.
The weekend will also see the culmination of several years work by Peter Thompson with the publication of his book recording those who have died from Barnoldswick during the last two centuries as a result of conflict.
A historic flyover of the last two remaining airworthy Lancasters, weather permitting at approximately 12-40pm on the Saturday, will reinforce Barnoldswick’s connection with airborne warfare.
An original Whittle jet engine, developed at Barnoldswick during the Second World War, together with a “Nene” engine, which was the first jet engine to enter service with the RAF, will be on static display at the event.
Barnoldswick Town Council chairman Coun. Claire Teall said: “It will be both humbling and an honour to stage this commemorative exhibition to mark the 100th anniversary of one of the biggest tragedies to hit Barnoldswick and one of the greatest disasters for our world with the advent of the war one hundred years ago.”
The event is being organised by Barnoldswick Town Council together with Peter Thompson and is supported with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The exhibition is open from 10am until 4pm on Saturday and Sunday, September 6th and 7th.
A special vintage market will be held adjacent to the marquee on the Saturday.