Silsden writer's new book tells of life in village during the First World War

WAR STORY: Primary school teacher Beverley Anne Reay

WAR STORY: Primary school teacher Beverley Anne Reay

First published in News

LIFE in part of the Bradford district during the First World War, as seen through the eyes of a child, is the subject of a new publication by a history group.

Edward’s Diary will go on sale at next weekend’s centenary event in Silsden town hall, which includes a major exhibition, musical recitals and evening dramatic performances.

Written by primary school teacher Beverley Anne Reay, the diary reveals the story of fictional child Edward Robinson, growing up in Thanet Square. His observations and experiences are based entirely on real events which took place in the town during 1914-18.

The book, published by Silsden Local History Group, draws on extensive research by the history group into the community life of the period, beginning with Edward carrying his school desk to the new Hothfield Street School shortly before the outbreak of war and concluding with him joining the cheering crowds in the main street on Armistice Day.

In the years between, he knows excitement, with his first glimpse of an aeroplane and the mass recruitment rallies on Punch Bowl Hill, and anguish as his old headmaster dies and his own elder brother is recruited to the front line of battle.

“So many books are being produced about this momentous period in history, but not a great deal from a child’s perspective,” says Mrs Reay who, until her recent retirement, taught at Aire View Infants’ School. “I hope I have been able to capture something of what life must have felt like for Edward’s generation in Silsden, too young to fight and certainly far too young to understand why the world was behaving as it did.”

Edward’s Diary goes on sale at £3 but the History Group are donating copies to Hothfield Junior School, where a study of the Great War, and how it affected local communities, begins in the autumn term.

The book is the second by Mrs Reay, her first publication being a child’s history of the church bell at St. James’, Silsden. This latest book is aimed at readers of all ages and any profit from sales will go towards future projects by the local history group.

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