AN exhibition commemorating the Accrington Pals opens today.
The First World War and Accrington Pals exhibition will feature a wall of honour, photographs of the Pals, interpretive images, and several special events.
A letter from iconic French general Joseph Joffre linking the town’s famous Tiffany glass collection to one of the worst events in the town’s history will also go on display.
The letter, dated May 20, 1917, was written by Joffre to Joseph Briggs, an Accrington man who was a senior manager at Tiffany Studios in New York.
In it, he thanks Joseph, who later presented Accrington with its world-famous collection, for the ‘delightful token you and your associates were good enough to present to me’.
The token, a life-size bronze statue of Joffre, was presented to the general by a committee chaired by Briggs.
It was taken back to France by Joffre, where he planned the Battle of the Somme, which led to thousands of brave Pals soldiers losing their lives.
And despite extensive searches, neither Joffre’s family or French military authorities can find any trace of the statue today.
Gallery co-ordinator Yvonne Robins said: “This is an incredible link between our new exhibition of the First World War and the Accrington Pals, and our permanent exhibition of Tiffany glass.”
At noon today Hyndburn mayor, Coun Judith Addison, opened the exhibition at a ceremony followed by a free concert and singalong of First World War era songs at 1pm.
Pals historian Walter Holmes has supplied numerous images from his collection for the gallery to show, and letters, medals and postcards will also be displayed.
Visitors to the exhibition, which will last until May 25, will be able to become a ‘war artist’, dress up, and write a postcard home.
And on Sunday, a free family workshop will be held, where visitors can create their own soldier and nurse figures, from 2pm.
For more information, call the gallery on 01254 233782.