Teesdale Volunteer Training Corps

Teesdale Volunteer Training Corps

The Bowes Museum is a beautiful spot situated in Barnard Castle – Teesdale, County Durham , attracting the general public from far and wide. With its intriguing history and breathtaking landscape, when offered the chance to spend time and make use of the archives we were delighted and grasped the opportunity with both hands. Over the years, the Bowes Museum has been part of many projects, hosted countless events and has presented lots of exhibitions such as the YSL ‘Fashion fades but Style is Eternal’. Through Barney school, a few who enjoyed a mix of English and History were selected to participate in one of the projects that the Bowes Museum offers. Taking part in this WW1 commemoration project ‘To serve your King and Country’ has been an eye opening and exciting adventure so we both have decided to extend our time researching, which also nicely ties in with our silver Duke of Edinburgh award, our advisor being Rupert Philbrick, a person of which none of this could have been done without. Seeing as we are both Barney girls, we decided to base our research loosely around the Teesdale Volunteering Training Corporals. This committee was one of many around the UK and had lots of connections with our school, which was at the time called the County School.


On the 28th of January 1915 a public meeting was called by the chairman of Barnard Castle Urban District council, Mr H Walker, who was the voice behind the idea of the formation of this group. After discussions, debates and decisions; the conclusion was that, ‘a volunteering training corps be formed for this district and that a committee be appointed from those present at the meeting.’ – Quote sourced from: Teesdale Volunteer Training Corps Minute Book

Here are the 30 names that were seen as deserving to join the ‘corps.’



The managers of this committee were as follows J.W.B Heslop, H. Walker, Dr. C.CH Welford, G. C. Harker, L.H Barnard and T. D Kevian. These were the original members of the managers, as time passed, others were also recruited.

A reoccurring name that often appeared in researched documents was L H Barnard – bursar of the North Eastern County School (Barney School) who we later discovered to also be the treasurer of this volunteering committee. He was not found on the Bowes Museum’s Roll of Honour list suggesting that he didn’t fight in the ‘regular army’ in WW1. This could have been due to his age, height or another unknown that is yet to be found.

Training, meetings and drills were mostly held at the county school and shooting ranges in the surrounding area such as Deepdale, now more commonly known as Deerbolt. The membership was open to not only those in the school, but for boys in the town and neighbouring villages between the ages 17-19. This requirement was decided upon on the second official committee meeting March the 3rd 1915. Another general condition that also applied to the regular army was that you must be taller than 5”3, must be no younger than 18 and no older than 38, although in times of conscription these general rules were slightly more lenient. Those who joined the group were prepared intensively incase of invasion, especially when times got tough and conscription was inevitable. An example of this structured regime is the itinerary of one of the Summer camps held from May – October 1918

photo 1

This particular agenda’s aim was ‘to produce as rapidly as possible a body of men who have been trained to the utmost extent that time and means at disposable permit, in the essentials of the military work and duties that may be required of them.’ – Quote sourced from: Scheme of Summer Training Volunteer Infantry Battalions.

Some men went in with the misconception that they would be exempt from joining the regular army if called up. Although this was not the case, the committee almost gave them a false sense of security. However, their misconception was soon corrected as all those wishing to become a member of this group were met with the condition of having to sign a declaration understanding that they would not be immune to the ‘regulations in regard to enlistment in the regular army’ – Quote sourced from: Teesdale Volunteer Training Corps Minute Book

As you can see from the pictures below; the total number of men in the organisation from August -September 1915 didn’t fluctuate. However, compared to the number actually attending the drills and so forth, the ratio between the two had a dramatic imbalance. As a result, on Sept the 3rd, Major Heslop took this matter into his hands and expressed his disappointment in the lack of numbers at drills and at those who hadn’t obtained their proficiency badge. Again the ratio between those with the proficiency and without had a dramatic imbalance (1:5)

photo 3-2


photo 2
In the Teesdale training corps minute book the chair stops writing in 1916 and the purpose of the book is changed to a register.


Alex Thompson and Ceara Sutton-Jones

First World War Sharing Event

Writers and poets of the future took part in the latest event of the Bowes Museum First World War project, “To Serve King And Country”.

The First World War Sharing Event took place at the Barnard Castle School on October 9, showcasing reflections by young people on the First World War. It included students’ reflections from a three-day workshop experience at the Bowes Museum in July, where students from Barnard Castle and Teesdale schools explored how people in Teesdale were affected by the war.

In 1915, Owen Scott, curator of The Bowes Museum, tried to create a Roll of Honour to record Teesdale individuals who served in the First World War. The project was never completed. One hundred years on, Rupert Philbrick, Community Coordinator for the World War One project “To Serve King and Country”, has taken on the task of fulfilling Scott’s dream. The latest part involves engaging young people from Teesdale in the story of their forebearers.

Mr Philbrick said educating and working with young people is part of the project’s brief – to make the First World War a “living history” for them. “We want to enhance their learning experience. This event was a chance to showcase students’ work, as well as the successes of the project so far,” Mr Philbrick added.

Sifting through papers from the First World War in the Bowes Museum archives, youngsters were inspired by the immediacy of the events they were researching. Barnard Castle Year 8 pupil Evie Brenkley said: “It struck me how local it is. We read that billeting was going to happen at the Bowes Museum. You feel as if you are there. Feeling the articles in your hands at the Bowes Museum really strikes you.”

Several First World War themes were explored in the writing, such as the five stages of grief, the arrival of Belgian refugees, the response of a father to his son who has died and the emotional response of stretch-bearers after they have found a dead body.



Several pieces of poetry and creative writing were recited, which moved the enthusiastic  crowd  gathered at Barnard Castle school. Year 8 pupil Esia Forsyth focused on the suffering that the Belgian refugees had left behind before they came to Britain, a fact which was ignored by the British press. She said: “The nasty bits were not really shown in newspaper articles; only the bits where England helped the Belgian refugees and took them in were shown. The nastier aspects were covered up”, before reciting her poem, entitled Houses Rich And Statues Grand.

Rachel Elphick, Year 11 pupil at Barnard Castle school, produced an emotional and captivating piece of creative writing on the theme of stretch-bearers, in which, on discovering a body, a stretch-bearer discovers that person who has died is his own brother. She said:  “Stretcher bearers are not well known. I wanted to find something about the war that was not typical.  I have been an avid reader since I was very small. I do a lot of drama, so it was not much of a big deal when I stood up there. When I grow up, I would like to be a writer or be in the police force.”

Amanda Gorman and Cassie Flint, English teachers at Barnard Castle and Teesdale schools respectively, hailed the evening as a success. Mrs Gorman said: “Rupert Philbrick has inspired these young people to produce this work.” Mr Philbrick highlighted the contribution of the young people. He said: “One way of gauging the success of the project is the fact that, since the workshop ended, several students are now volunteering at the museum in their own time to undertake further First World War research.”

The next event for the “To Serve King And Country” project is a volunteer meeting at the Bowes Museum on October 20 between 1:30 – 2:30 pm, which is an opportunity to learn more about how the project has developed over the last 12 months.

By Andy Drozdziak


What’s in a name? The problem with Charles W. B. Hall.

Recently, I have been using documents supplied by Cockfield School to update the Roll of Honour.  With the bare minimum of information recorded, and over half of files from The First World War having been destroyed in The Blitz, it often proves difficult to follow each individual’s story.  However, a certain Charles W. B. Hall provided a particularly confusing case due to his ever-varying name.

On the Cockfield School Roll of Honour, Charles is listed as C. Hall.  Presumably then, one would begin researching the history of a ‘Mr Hall’.  However, in the 1901 Census, Charles is listed as Charles W. Brown.  By the 1911 Census, he is Charles Hall… deprived both of the initial ‘W’ and the name ‘Brown’.

Throughout Charles’s service records, though, he refers to himself, and is referred to, as Charles William Brown Hall.  While the names Brown and Hall are hyphenated (Brown-Hall) on one occasion (26/12/1918, Protection Certificate and Certificate of Identity), they are most commonly written as separate names, and ‘Brown’ is frequently recorded simply as the letter ‘B’, i.e. Charles W. B. Hall.  This suggests that Charles demoted ‘Brown’ from being his surname in 1901 to being an additional middle name at some point between 1901 and 1911.

Interestingly, Charles’s relation to the Head of Family (William Hall) in the 1901 Census is recorded as ‘stepson’, which changes to ‘son’ by 1911.  Presumably, Emily Hall (the mother of Charles) was re-married to William Hall and led to Charles’s adoption of the surname ‘Hall’ over ‘Brown’.

It is interesting that Charles seemingly retained the name ‘Brown’ but as a middle name, rather than a double barrelled surname (due to the frequency with which the name is recorded without a hyphen, one can only assume the 1918 reference to Brown-Hall is a mistake made by a secondary party).

While it is these discrepancies that make research problematic, it is also what makes it so interesting!


Hall 1901 Census Hall 1911 Census Hall Service Record (20)