A ZEPPELIN bomb crater on a remote hillside is one of the remarkable venues for a series of concerts marking the centenary of the First World War.

Acclaimed folk trio Harp and a Monkey has teamed up with Arts Council England and the Western Front Association for the musical project.

Starting in August, the band will take the show to a series of highly unusual venues, including the bomb crater on Holcombe Moor created by a terrifying Zeppelin attack in September 1916 which killed 13 people in Bolton.

The Great War: New Songs and Stories in the Landscape is made up of original songs and re-workings of traditional ones as well as field recordings of people who lived through it.

It also includes anecdotes from the band’s frontman Martin Purdy, a Great War historian and author who has worked on 'Who Do You Think You Are?' on the BBC.

Mr Purdy from Ramsbottom said: “To be playing up on the West Pennine Moor in what is thought to be a feature of the landscape actually created directly by the First World War is very exciting — and pretty challenging.

“The crater itself is like a natural amphitheatre but getting the equipment up there is going to be something else.

“Thankfully we have a solar-powered sound system and a team of willing local Sherpas on standby.

“This show highlights how real the threat of the First World War was to people at home who had previously thought Britain was impregnable as long as we continued to rule the waves.”

He added: “The aim of the concerts is to challenge many of the stereotypes of the Great War and we will be focusing heavily on the forgotten heroes and the extraordinary achievements of ordinary people."

Another show is planned at The Westfield War Memorial Village in Lancaster which is now occupied by veterans of the Second World War, Korea, The Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

And the band will also be performing inside Liverpool’s Walton jail in a special concert for prisoners and staff who are ex-servicemen.

The prison housed conscientious objectors in the Great War and is now home to many former servicemen who have struggled to cope with life after conflict.

Harp and a Monkey plan to expand the project in 2016 and already have a number of unusual sites with Great War links earmarked for future shows around the UK.

They will also be making a documentary of the project for broadcast later in the year.

The other members of the northern-based folk trio, which is making a big name for itself on the festival circuit, are Andy Smith, from Blackley in north Manchester and Simon Jones from Burnage, who is also an award winning photographer.

The Holcombe Moor concert, in the crater next to the local Peel Tower landmark, will take place on Sunday August 23 and is a free public show starting at 2pm.


ON the evening of September 25, 1916, the German Zeppelin L21 was spotted off the coast of Lincolnshire before it headed over Yorkshire and into Lancashire, where it followed the tracks of the East Lancashire Railway line along the Rossendale Valley.

The Zeppelin dropped bombs all along the route, including a half-dozen on the small hamlet of Holcombe.

Chaos ensued, with a 95-year-old woman blown out of her bed and into the road, but despite the trauma the only fatalities were to be a song thrush and some chickens.

The Zeppelin was to go on to attack the town of Bolton in the early hours of the next morning, where 13 men, women and children were killed and many others injured.

Attacks from the air were to result in 557 deaths on British shores during the First World War, with a further 1,358 people wounded.