Port Sunlight needs you for march commemorating First World War centenary

Port Sunlight needs you to join centenary march

Port Sunlight needs you to join centenary march

First published in News
Last updated
Wirral Globe: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

AN army of volunteers is being recruited to recreate the time hundreds of factory staff in Port Sunlight marched from their homes to enlisted for service in the First World War.

On September 7, 1914, 700 Lever Brothers employees travelled from the village to Chester by train and walked the mile to the Cheshire Military Museum at the Castle to enlist in the 13th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment.

They were the largest group of volunteers from any works in the country to sign-up to fight in the First World War and many didn’t make it home.

To mark the event, Port Sunlight Village Trust plans to bring 700 members of the local community and employees of Unilever together on September 7. To date, 400 people have volunteered to take part in the event and Globe readers are invited to take part.

Lionel Bolland, the trust’s chief executive, said: “We have been really touched by the response from the local community.

"However, we have more places available for people all across the Wirral and North West England to get involved.

"What better way to honour the sacrifice those Lever Brothers employees and their families made 100 years ago than to fill all 700 places?"

The 700 will begin their journey by marching through the 'original' Lever Brothers factory gates, now part of the Unilever site, before forming-up outside Lever House where they will be addressed by an actor playing the part of Sir William Hesketh Lever.

Unilever Works director Andy Hinch said: "The 700 Lever Brothers employees signing up for the First World War was a defining moment for the factory, the village and the Wirral as a whole.

"This is an event for us as a community to come together, young and old, to remember the courage and sacrifice of our forefathers."

Each volunteer will be given the King’s shilling and a card with historical information about one of the 700 Lever Brothers employees.

These have been carefully and painstakingly researched by a Port Sunlight Village Trust volunteer as no list of the original men exists.

Lionel Bolland continued: "Putting names to faces has been an emotional piece of work.

"Many of them left a stable work and family life, some with young children who they never saw again. Many were killed in action or died of their wounds.

"But The Great Send Off will not be a sombre occasion. We will sing the songs that they sang, we will be full of hope and pride as they were and we shall have the sense of fellowship as they had."

If you would like to volunteer to be one of the 700, contact Port Sunlight Village Trust on 0151 644 4803 or email c.fidler@portsunlightvillage.com.

More information can be found on the website www.portsunlightvillage.com

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