Every month we highlight a film from our collections for Derby Telegraph’s pull out ‘Bygones.’
For this month’s article, published on 30th June, we looked at ‘Unveiling of the War Memorial to the Men of Alfreton’, a black and white silent film which features a parade and ceremony for the unveiling of the war memorial for the men of Alfreton who gave their lives in WWI.
The war memorial, which stands in the Old Market Place, on the corner of King Street and Church Street in Alfreton, was made by sculptor William Aumonier and depicts a helmeted soldier protecting a young child. It was unveiled by General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien on 31st July 1927 and is now recorded as a Grade II listed monument.
The film opens with a parade of men in suits with their war medals marching along an Alfreton street behind a marching band. Two men in army uniform carry large wreaths in front of the band. Onlookers walk next to the parade, including children.
The film then cuts to the Old Market Square in Alfreton where a large crowd has congregated for the unveiling. There are various ages here, from children in smart clothing, to women in feathered hats and men in flat caps and uniform. Some of the crowd sit on chairs on shop rooftops or are looking on from open sash windows.
The Girls’ Life Brigade in their uniformed hats and badges emerge to the front of the crowd. We then see Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien and other dignitaries standing on a raised platform at front of the memorial. A shop sign for ironmongers, ‘Crofts’ can be seen in the background as the speeches are read.
The flag concealing the memorial is pulled away to reveal the plaque which reads ‘To the Glory of God and in memory of the men of Alfreton who gave their lives in the Great War 1914-1918. Live thou for England we for England died’. Wreaths of flowers are then placed at the foot of the monument. The camera moves to reveal a full shot of the bronze figure which stands on a cubic pedestal high above the crowd. The soldier is holding a rifle and protecting a small child.
The film ends with shots of the crowd moving back down the street again. Shop fronts and motorcars blur into the sea of faces and the regular hustle and bustle of the town returns.
The full Derby Telegraph can be read at http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/Bygones-Historic-film-mark-unveiling-Alfreton-War/story-21308234-detail/story.html