It was 100 years... and millions of lives ago

Historic day: Sir Peter Openshaw unveils the memorial in Ribchester dedicated to the servicemen of both world wars
Historic day: Sir Peter Openshaw unveils the memorial in Ribchester dedicated to the servicemen of both world wars
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One hundred years ago tonight, Britain declared war on Germany.

In the slaughter that followed, millions lost their lives and families and entire communities lost many loved-ones, families and friends.

Tonight Lancashire joins the national and international effort to commemorate the start of the First World War.

The Mayor of Preston, Coun Nick Pomfret, said: “This is a momentous juncture of our time and one that has contributed to the way we live our lives today.

“It is very important we remember these occasions as a city and nation and those who fought for us.”

At 11pm on August 4, 1914, the declaration of war ushered in one of the darkest periods in our history.

British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey made the famous remark: “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”

That remark inspired the UK-wide Lights Out event, which Preston will mark at an event on the Flag Market tonight.

Lights Out events are taking place in towns and cities across the UK with an invitation for everyone to turn off their lights between 10pm and 11pm, leaving a single light or candle on for a shared moment of reflection.

All exterior lights will be turned out on council buildings and street lights surrounding the Flag Market.

A choreographed candlelit vigil will be centred against the backdrop of the newly refurbished war memorial, followed by First World War readings of letters and poetry.

Almost 2,000 candles will feature, each one representing a soldier named on the Roll of Honour for the First World War.

Meanwhile, other commemorative events were held at the weekend.

The new community-funded war memorial at Ribchester was officially unveiled yesterday. Organisers raised £25,000 in just over 12 months to hit the fund-raising target and the target date.

More than 100 residents attended a ceremony at the site on land by Greenside carpark.

The event was made even more poignant by the placing of wreaths of poppies on the front doors of the former homes of eight First World War servicemen in the village.

Ribchester War Memorial Association chairman Roy Skilbeck said: “The event was a huge success and tremendously well supported by the local residents who turned out in great numbers.”

Marc Mallam, who designed the memorial, said: “It was a very poignant event.

“The placing of wreaths at the homes of some of our soldiers really brought it home and it has had an enormous effect.”

South Ribble Museum and Exhibition Centre has also officially opened its August 1914 Commemorative Exhibition. Among those attending were relatives of John McNamara from Bamber Bridge who was awarded a VC in the Great War.

Also yesterday, a commemorative lunch was held at Samlesbury War Memorial Hall.

Members of the local community joined together for a special lunch at to mark 100 years since the start of the war, with period recipes and readings in between courses.