A football match under the street lamps, a toast to the ‘boys of the old brigade’ and a theatrical re-enactment of the events on Christmas Eve 1914 were just some of the elements which made for a unique night at the Albion Inn.
In a special evening to mark the anniversary of the Christmas Truce during the First World War, the city centre pub held a special commemorative evening. Led by Matt Baker as master of ceremonies, actors from the city’s Theatre in the Quarter re-enacted the moments when the gunfire stopped and carols could be heard from across No Man’s Land.
Much of the research for the theatre company’s play Silent Night, written by Helen Newall, was from diaries from soldiers of the Cheshire Regiment who allegedly were part of the momentous ceasefire.. Helen, dressed as a nurse, narrated scenes and gave the audience an insight into the context of the famous truce, how weather conditions and other factors may have contributed to the phenomenal events.
She said: “It was really rather incredible to be able to tell this story in such a place as The Albion and on this very night; we used the two sides of the bar for dramatic effect.”
The audience toasted the soldiers with a shot of Benedictine, a favourite tipple which came from the monasteries of Flanders, before everyone went out and played football on Albion Street with an authentic leather football of the time.
The Albion Inn has commemorated many events surrounding the First World War for decades. Landlord Mike Mercer and his wife Christina were invited to Clarence House by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall as acknowledgment of all the fundraising that they have done for the War Memorials Trust over the years.
Mike said: “I was overwhelmed at the response to the idea. We had a great turn out that night and this gives me confidence that people will want to commemorate many events with is over the full centenary period until 2018.”