Photos on the Wall

A Short History of New Mill and the Great War – By Tom Ashworth

Fred Hallas

First New Mill man to be killed in WW1



New Mill is a village situated a mile or two west of Holmfirth in West Yorkshire. Quiet as it is now, in 1914 it was a bustling, busy place of mills, mines, pubs, churches and chapels, typical of so many small towns and villages in this part of the country.

The book tells the story of the thirty four young men of New Mill who went to war and never returned. The part that these young men took in the great battles of the war is discussed through reference to contemporary battlefield accounts and gives detailed descriptions of the actions in which they lost their lives. Much use is made of letters home, either from the soldiers themselves or from friends and comrades.

The difficult and challenging changes that took place in New Mill itself as the war progressed are also discussed in detail. Military Tribunals, industrial unrest, restrictions on social activities and the influenza pandemic that struck the valley just as a tired population were beginning to recover from the privations of the first ‘total’ war in history. It’s a bottom-up social history; no generals and politicians.

The book ends with the celebration of the opening of the New Mill Memorial Institute in 1922 which comprises, at it’s heart, the very special indoor cenotaph with the photographs of the sons of New Mill. These are the ‘photos on the wall’.

Check out book reviews by Professor Paul Ward and Rev Sean Robertshaw – reviews.


  • Lewis  On February 17, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    If New Mill was located ‘a mile or two, west of Holmfirth when he wrote the book, it would be up Greenfield Road towards Saddleworth Moor. It is actually located two miles, by car, to the east of Holmfirth.

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