First World War Centenary
 

There is a key word in the full title of Huddersfield’s museum.

For the Tolson Memorial Museum is just that – a memorial to those who gave their lives in the First World War.

For the magnificent house and extensive grounds were donated to Huddersfield as a museum by Legh Tolson in memory of his two nephews, Second Lieutenant Robert Huntriss Tolson and his brother, 2nd Lt James Martin Tolson.

So it is fitting that the museum has a major exhibition planned for next year.

2nd Lt Robert Huntriss Tolson, 31, from Dalton was killed on July 1, 1916 – the infamous first day of the Battle of the Somme – while leading troops from the 15th Bn West Yorkshire Regiment over the top.

Robert Huntriss Tolson's grave with the wreath laid from the staff and friends at the Tolson Museum
Robert Huntriss Tolson's grave with the wreath laid from the staff and friends at the Tolson Museum
 

His body was not discovered until March 1917 and he is buried in the Serre Road Cemetery in the Somme area.

2nd Lt James Martin Tolson joined he 74th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery in April 1916 but was wounded near Ypres in February the next year and came back to England for hospital treatment.

He returned to France but was gassed in June 1918 near Adinfer, yet still returned to his battery in July 1918.

James Martin Tolson (left) and Robert Huntriss Tolson
James Martin Tolson (left) and Robert Huntriss Tolson
 

He was just 20 when he was killed near Cambrai on October 20, 1918 just weeks before the war finished.

He is buried in Quievy Communal Cemetery Extension in Cambrai.

The brothers were two of six sons and daughters of Whiteley and Jessy Tolson, of Oaklands on Greenhead Lane in Dalton.

In 1919, Whiteley’s brother, Legh Tolson, who was living at Ravensnowle Hall, made a gift of his house to the Huddersfield Corporation as a tribute and lasting memorial to his two nephews.

This become the Tolson Museum which was officially opened in 1922.

The family home of Oaklands in Dalton was sold to Huddersfield Corporation in 1944 and used as an old peoples’ home for the next 50 years.

The displays at the museum next year will feature the history of the museum.

The Examiner wants your 1914-18 First World War stories  

The approach will be personal rather than a chronological history as many of the collections and photographs relate to individuals along with the towns and villages around Huddersfield.

Themes for the displays will include:

Huddersfield Goes to War – covering Huddersfield’s military response and resistance to it.

The Home Front – covering patriotism, fundraising, the response of local industries, everyday life and the war hospitals.

Peace and Commemoration – the museum has a number of items relating directly to the declaration of the Armistice including photographs, medals, and mourning items. It is here that the Tolson brother’s story will be told.

Faces of War – possibly a projection of the museum’s collection of photographs of newly enlisted soldiers from this area and beyond before they went off to the Front.

Tolson Museum in Ravensknowle Park
Tolson Museum in Ravensknowle Park