Exhibition serves as a poignant reminder of sacrifices made

Sheila Cowey with her father's war medals at the Ponteland exhibition.
Sheila Cowey with her father's war medals at the Ponteland exhibition.

An exhibition of war-related information and items in Ponteland proved very popular with the public.

More than 500 people went along to the Memorial Hall on Saturday and Sunday to see the display, which was organised by Ponteland Town Council to mark 100 years since the start of the First World War.

Information boards about soldiers from the area, covering various conflicts since 1914, were put up in the lounge and the artefacts on show included uniforms, medals and a rusted Mauser pistol that a resident had obtained.

In addition, there were war posters and bunting, wartime songs were played and members of the Ponteland Repertory Society were in costume as they are performing Oh What a Lovely War at the venue later this month – they sang a few of the songs that will feature in the show.

On Sunday, the exhibition opened some minutes after the Remembrance Service at the War Memorial outside the building had finished and chairman of the town council’s war remembrance working party, Coun Peter Cowey, said a large queue of people waiting to go into the hall quickly formed.

He added: “I never heard a single comment that wasn’t complimentary. Everyone I spoke to said it was a terrific display and they were fascinated by the many stories of regular soldiers who ‘did the job’ in battle.

“The artefacts on show were also popular. Some of the items were very valuable, so we used laminated pictures of them as we didn’t want them to potentially get damaged or go missing.

“Refreshments were provided and many of those attending the exhibition stayed for quite a while.”

Those at the service included representatives of the Armed Forces, veterans, cadets and local community groups as well as councillors, Caroline Pryer, a Deputy Lieutenant of Northumberland, and members of the public.

As wreaths were being laid, Deputy Mayor Joyce Butcher read out the names of the men from Ponteland who died in battle in the First World War and Mayor Carl Rawlings then read out the names of the Ponteland soldiers who died during the Second World War.

Coun Cowey said: “It was a very poignant service and it was lovely to see young people from various organisations laying wreaths.”

Second Lieutenant Victoria Gardner brought along a memorial document that was issued by King George following the death of Second Lieutenant William Lionel Brownlow – he was killed in action in France on May 9, 1915, aged 18.

It has been in the office of the Ponteland Detachment of the Army Cadet Force for many years. William’s mother, Mabel Laura Brownlow (née Brown), came from Haltwhistle and his father was Brigadier General D’Arcy Charles Brownlow.

William had been educated at Marlborough College and Royal Military College, Sandhurst. There is a plaque stating he died in battle during the First World War at St Nicholas’ Cathedral in Newcastle. Anyone with more information about him, or any distant relations of the family, can contact Sec. Lieut. Gardner by email to vicgard74@hotmail.co.uk