A BENCH dedicated to the role of Darwen women in the First World War is set to be unveiled at the town’s cemetery next week.

The inscribed granite bench will be unveiled on behalf of the Darwen Townswomen’s Guild to honour the women of the area who supported soldiers during the Great War.


Around 1,300 soldiers from the town died in the war, but Cllr John East, part of the Friends of Darwen Cemetery group, said what is often forgotten is the vital role women played.

He said: “The unveiling of this bench will be a unique event because while we always focus on the amount of casualties we had here in Darwen, we do forget the wives and the lovers of these soldiers and what they went through.

“It will be a pleasure to unveil this tribute to them and recognise what they did during the war, which was vital.”

The bench will represent a number of stories of Darwen women during the war, including two women who travelled to Switzerland in 1916 to see their husbands, who had previously been prisoners of war in Germany.

Brent Stevenson Memorials completed the inscription work on the bench, which will be unveiled next Thursday by The High Sheriff of Lancashire, John Barnett, and the Mayor of Darwen, Cllr Brian Taylor.

Pupils from Ashleigh Primary School, which opened in 1914 at the start of the war, will also lay a wreath at the nearby Cross of Sacrifice in memory of soldiers who died during the Battle of the Somme in July 1916.

St Wilfred’s CE Academy student Abigail Naylor, 14, will also be at the event, playing the Last Post on the bugle after previously playing outside Blackburn Town Hall and with the Massed Bands of the Sea Cadets at the annual National Trafalgar Square Parade in London.

Cllr Taylor said it will be a proud moment for him to unveil the bench, having lost two great-uncles in the war in a matter of days.

He said: “I think in the past it has not been recognised enough, the role that women played in the First World War, many of them lost husbands and loved ones and then had to bring up a family on their own with very little money.

“I have a great appreciation of what this struggle was like and I think we cannot acknowledge their role enough.”