BOLTON actress Maxine Peake will narrate a unique DVD charting the stories of those of battled World War One on the home front.

Released to mark the centenary of the start of the Great War, the North West Film Archive has opened its vaults to share compelling footage in Life on the Home Front in North West.

The rare archive footage reveals the stories of those who stayed behind and of how lives were changed dramatically in this dark period of our history.

From industrial toil in the years leading up to the outbreak of war, to key events during the hostilities, the film includes the recruitment and departure of soldiers going to the front, and the poignant memorials for those who did not return.

Entirely without combat footage, the film is intended to be a testament to the lives of people on the home front, and the losses and changes they endured, a century ago.

The film has been produced by the North West Film Archive at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Archive director Marion Hewitt said: “We are very pleased to have been able to save so much of this rare and unique footage for the region.

“Releasing it on DVD at the beginning of the period of World War One commemorations means that it will be available early for schools to include in classroom activities, and for individuals, to appreciate the enormity of the sacrifices made by so many.”

The documentary-style production begins by painting a picture of the period immediately before the outbreak of war — a time of relative peace and prosperity — with work in mines, mills and markets across the region.

Recognition of the industrial success of the North took the form of a royal tour by King George V and Queen Mary in 1913, when thousands can be seen turning out to cheer as their motorcade swept through Lancashire.

There are also scenes of recruiting in Liverpool, exercising and training in trenches and with bayonets near Bury, troops being inspected by various dignitaries from Blackpool to Bolton, and marching to the Lancaster Railway Station to board trains taking them to active service on the Western Front.

Regiments featured include the legendary and ill-fated Accrington Pals Battalion; the Cheshire Regiment, the King’s Own Loyal Lancaster Regiment and the Morecambe Volunteers; and the Lancashire Fusiliers, who famously earned six VCs on one day in Gallipoli.

The public premiere of the new film will be presented on Wednesday, May 21, at 7.15pm at Manchester’s Dancehouse in Oxford Road.

Tickets are available from the box office, and the DVD can be bought on the night. It will also be available from IWM North, and from Archives+ in Manchester Central Library, as well as many other shops and heritage outlets.

Tickets for the screening at the Dancehouse Theatre are £5.

Contact the theatre box office on 0161 2379753 or email boxoffice@