BOURTON 1914 – 1918
At the time of World War 1 the village of Bourton was an established industrial and farming community in North Dorset. There had been a flax mill on the River Stour since the 11th century. A small iron foundry was established manufacturing agricultural machinery in the 1600’s. Later portable and stationery steam engines were produced followed by steam and gas engines. Owned and managed by the Hindley family the foundry provided employment for many men in the community. There was also employment for men on farms and the brickyard.
On the day war was declared, August 4th 1914, the villagers of Bourton and Silton were enjoying a day out at a fete on Furzehill Common. The band played, people danced, there was plenty of cider for all. The men who were already reservists went home and put on their uniforms. They left that night on the ten o’clock train from Gillingham. Others had travelled to Dorchester earlier that day to enlist. For the women and children, and the men who stayed behind to run the farms and work in Bourton’s foundry, the revelries ended at 10 o’clock when the band was told to stop playing and a lock was put on the hogshead of cider.
It wasn’t until a year later that E. S. Hindley’s foundry was requisitioned by the Ministry of Munitions to produce Mills Bombs (hand grenades). With a shortage of male labour in the area eighty local women were recruited to work on the production line.
This website commemorates and celebrates the men, women and children who contributed to the war effort in many different ways:
the soldiers, sailors and airmen who gave their lives for their country in France, Belgium, Jutland, Mesopotamia, the South Atlantic and Ireland
the women who produced up to 3 million Mills Bombs
Harold Hindley, the Reverend Sparrow & Dr. Pope Bartlett who set up the Emergency Flood Relief Fund to support villagers affected by the 1917 Flood
the pupils of St George’s Church School who raised funds and collected blackberries, conkers and acorns
the village policeman who upheld the laws imposed on communities across the land by the War Office
If you have family stories and photos relating to this period in Bourton 1914 – 1918 we’d love to hear from you. Over time we will be able to capture life in Bourton during the years of WW1 with the addition of your memories & memorabilia.
Bourton 1914 – 1918 has moved from St George’s Church, Bourton and is currently at St Peter’s Church, Stourton. Open 10am – 6pm.Free admission.
Our thanks go to all the people who contributed documents, photographs, family stories, and above, all their own expertise and enthusiasm to make the Bourton WW1 site possible.
Rob Bonser-Wilton, Sylvia Collins, Chris Copson, Adrian Cox, Chris & Penny Deverill, Debra Doggrell, Barry & Vivienne Edwards, John Farthing, Simon Firbank, Peter Fitzgerald, Evelyn Flower, Audrey German, Wendy & Ron Harris, Lyn & Herbie Light, David Lloyd, Ray Love, Jim Mann, Brian Martin, Robert Mullins, Michael Plaxton, Ron Salinger, Michael Salisbury, Bonny Sartin, Nick Speakman, Bernie Sullivan, Ann & George Turner, H.Vincent, Pauline Whitmarsh, Jaz Wiseman, Sam Woodcock, Michael Yeatman,
Michael Gibbs – Gibbs Family Tree; Amanda John – Swindon Industrial Archives; Diana Beaupre – Canada WW1 Veterans Association; Lynsey Slater – Doncaster Military Museum; Sam Astill – Somerset Regiment Museum; Margaret Laver – St Mary’s Church, Taunton; Joel Lacey– Dorset Life; Silton WI; Imperial War Museum; Gillingham Museum; Gold Hill Museum; The Keep Military Museum; Women’s Engineering Society; Mere Museum; Bourton Church
This website has been funded by:
Dorset Rural Arts Fund, Bourton Parish Council & local donors