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Touring art exhibition commemorating Somme visits Skipton

A pop-up touring art exhibition depicting the inhumanity of war will set up outside Skipton Town Hall on Friday July 1 and Saturday July 2, to mark the 100th anniversary of the Bradford Pals regiment's role in the Battle of the Somme.

Peter Robson

The exhibition, entitled 'Unobtania', by Cleckheaton-based artist Peter Robson, features ten paintings, including depictions of World War One battlefields and trenches, and is part of a regional tour of towns with Pals battalions, including Keighley, Halifax, Burnley and Rochdale. 

Craven and the First World War Project Officer, Rob Freeman, said: "Skipton has a special connection to the Bradford Pals who trained at Raikeswood Camp and were perhaps the most popular of the battalions who came to the town. It was with genuine regret that the townspeople watched them march away, many of them to their deaths in the horrific scenes of the Somme. It is fitting, therefore, that a hundred years later we mark the sacrifices that these men made with Peter's poignant exhibition on the anniversary of the first day of the Somme."

The Bradford Pals were formed from bands of friends or colleagues from all walks of life, who volunteered to serve their country shoulder-to-shoulder. It is believed that 1,394 men went 'over the top' and 1,017 of these were either killed or injured.

Mr Robson, 56, said of the chance to exhibit in Skipton: "I am massively honoured, plus July 1 is the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, where 20,000 men died in the first hour. There were many from the Bradford Pals."

"When I was doing the work, I was conscious of the efforts of all the men that died, and also the work done by women back home."

He added: "I think the main message of the exhibition is we have still not learned a lesson. We are still at it today."

The exhition will be pitching up on the setts in front of the Town Hall in a horse box and will be open to members of the public on both days from 10am-4pm.

The site of the Skipton camp where the Bradford Pals trained, and was later a Prisoner of War camp, is being excavated as part of a Heritage Lottery Funded project which will see young archaeologists spend a week in August surveying and excavating a field at the top of Raikeswood Drive.

To find out more about the project and ways in which the community can get involved, there will be an information evening at Skipton Town Hall on Tuesday 12th July.