Crich and Lea Mills in the Great War

Crich Area Community News received a £10,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant to carry out their project ‘Crich and Lea Mills in the Great War’. The aim was to update and recreate the soldiers’ rolls of honour and enabled them to be displayed throughout the parish, to ensure that the soldiers were  more than “just a name”.

The original 1920 Roll of Honour in St Mary’s Church, Crich had 395 names. Many omissions and errors on this Roll were discovered and the project produced a new Roll of Honour for 2014. This new Roll has 425 names, ranks, regiments and, where known, photographs. Indeed more information came along after this and so a new Crich Parish Roll of Honour will be available in 2018.

Crich Parish consists of the villages of Crich, Whatstandwell and Fritchley. It also includes the ‘hamlets’ of Crich Carr, Wheatcroft, Wakebridge, Coddington, Bullbridge, Moorwood Moor and Plaistow Green. Some of the people involved lived outside the parish but had strong connections with Crich Parish and have been included in the records.

Also included are the men from Lea Mills who served in the Great War. Some of these men were from the parish but many were from nearby villages and hamlets. Lea Mills was a major employer of the men and women of the Crich area. The project accessed the John Smedley knitwear firm’s archive, which holds letters written by servicemen, enabling the documents and other data to be researched, transcribed and published. A new Roll of Honour for the men of the factory was unveiled in 2014.

The project recruited and trained volunteers to help with local and national research . They also interviewed locals to gain insights and information about how their ancestors lived.

Volunteers collected photographs, newspaper clippings, documents, letters and keepsakes, as well as family tales passed down, to help build a clear picture of what life was really like and used this information to build up mini-biographies.

The research was published in a book honouring the people who served and was also placed online at crich parish-ww1. Because so much extra information was discovered after publication a second edition will be available in 2018.

Mobile displays were created for use in community centres and schools.