Knitted poppy installation for Sunderland to mark 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme

Wessington U3A members with some of the 2,000 knitted poppies to be hung from Fatfield Bridge to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.
Wessington U3A members with some of the 2,000 knitted poppies to be hung from Fatfield Bridge to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.
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Thousands of hand-knitted poppies are set to make an art installation to commemorate 100 years since the Battle of the Somme.

Fatfield Bridge in Washington is to become awash with the poppies as July 1 marks the anniversary of the day the bloodiest battle in World War One began.

To mark the occasion 2016 poppies will cascade from the side of the Washington bridge until the end of October.

The idea is the brainchild of Wessington U3A where members have spent several years researching the 383 men and one woman who are named on the village war memorials in Fatfield, Washington and Usworth.

Having used knitted poppies in two previous small installations, members decided they wanted to mark the anniversary of the Somme with their most ambitious project yet.

Members, friends and family have been grabbing knitting needles over the last three months and have knitted up 2016 colourful wool poppies which have been attached to 24 banners, set to be hung from the side of the bridge on June 30.

Margaret Welsh from Wessington U3A, said: "We have worked with knitted poppies for a few years now, and have used them for a few memorials but this year we wanted to do something rather epic to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

“In Washington 94 men were killed at the Somme and we were determined to remember these brave fighters in the best way we could. We wanted to make a big impact and decided 2016 poppies in all shapes and sizes suspended from the Fatfield Bridge would be a beautiful yet poignant reminder of these men.

“Our members have been knitting for the last few months and we’ve had amazing support from other groups and organisations across Washington who were keen to help. Every day we’ve had bags of poppies arriving and now we are just putting the finishing touches to the banners, ready to hang them next week.”

The banners will be officially unveiled on the evening of Thursday June 30, at 10pm. That same evening, candles will be lit at the war memorial and 28 larger white poppies will be ‘planted’ to mark the 28 Harraton men who died on the first day of the battle on July 1, 1916.

On Friday July 1, a 20-minute film produced by Lonely Tower with Wessington U3A featuring the 94 Washington men who died in battle will be shown at venues across Washington and Durham.

Washington Men at the Somme will be shown simultaneously at 7.28am at the North Biddick Club, Fatfield Village, Holy Trinity Church, Washington Village and Holy Trinity Church, High Usworth. It will also be shown at the Beamish Museum Chapel at 11am and 1pm.