Remembering the young members of Burnley's oldest youth club who gave their lives in the First World War

The Burnley Lads Club of 1914
The Burnley Lads Club of 1914
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Today's young members of a historic Burnley youth club have been learning about the sacrifices made by their forebears who fought and died in the First World War.


The Burnley Lads Club, as it was then called, saw 124 of its brave young sons go to war and never come back, including the club's founder Henry Riley, who perished on the Somme like so many others.

One of the displays

One of the displays

Now called the Burnley Boys and Girls Club, today's members have been discovering more about the experiences of their peers from 1914 to 1918.

Graham Vernon, centre manager, said: "A century later, as we all remember the brave souls who stood side by side to prevent enemies from landing on our soil, the young people of the club were asked 'do you understand what happened?'

"Most of them gave stock answers like 'yes we were at war with Germany' and 'everyone had rationed food', but when asked what did they think the conditions were like, none of them could give a real answer.

"The young people were asked to spend a few minutes reflecting on the times and the situation, and to help them they were all given the information about the young men from their own club and asked if they could have gone to war?

"This really gave them all food for thought and inspired all the young members of the club to want to make a permanent memorial to commemorate all who gave their lives."

The former club leader John Melvin created the Memorial Garden to serve as a permanent memorial and the young people created a display in the club sharing the story and showing the pictures of the 124 men and boys.

Graham added: "To watch our young people taking pride and such care in displaying the pictures and talking about the young men is truly inspirational and has given a lasting memory in this generation and hopefully in generations to come of our 124 members and the work we do today.

"We are a very small charity with very big hearts and most of our work goes unnoticed. Most people in the town have heard about the club but not many come forward to get involved, we are always looking for volunteers and especially fundraisers so that the club can continue the invaluable work it has done with the young people of Burnley.

"Next year we celebrate 120 years of the club and it would be amazing if more people got involved to save the club.

“The memorial garden was due to be opened in September but unfortunately due to the lack of funds and volunteers the project has been temporarily put on hold. If anyone would like to give a couple of hours to help finish the garden or help to raise desperately needed funds please do not hesitate to get in touch."

For more information on Burnley Boys and Girls club or to view the nearly finished garden and display please contact Graham Vernon on 01282 424038 or email info@burnleybgc.org.uk