Spennymoor Town Council

Behind the Lines


In May 1920 Sister Kate Maxey, a shopkeeper’s daughter from Spennymoor, was honoured as one of the first recipients of the International Red Cross’s Florence Nightingale Medal. She had served in casualty clearing stations and hospitals behind the Western Front for three and a half years before being wounded in a German air raid. To celebrate Sister Maxey’s service, and that of others from the town involved in medical services on the Western Front, Tudhoe & Spennymoor Local History Society, with the support of a £10,000 National Lottery Grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, commissioned Lonely Tower Film and Media to make this film.

The Society is deeply indebted to Kate Maxey’s family, who have made photographs and other records available, and to Dick Robinson, the great nephew of Kate’s nursing friend, Sister Edie Appleton, for his support for the film and for the readings from Edie’s diary so movingly read by his wife, Lisa. The film has also been enhanced by support from many experts, notably Christine Hallett, Professor of Nursing History at the University of Huddersfield, whose accounts of nursing on the Western Front form one of the main elements of the narrative.

The Society see the film both as a commemoration of the 100 years since the end of the Great War and an insight into how our community was involved in medical services at the beginning of the twentieth century. It was most appropriate that the first showing was at Spennymoor Town Hall, which, then a new building, saw many of the local events associated with the war, particularly fund-raising events for those serving and celebrations of homecomings and medals won.

The Society is very grateful to Spennymoor Town Council for supporting the Premiere, which showed the Town Hall at its best. In particular, the big screen and sound system in the main hall supported the impressively produced HD film and soundtrack which Mark Thorburn and Marie Gardiner of Lonely Tower Film and Media have created.  Some of the music for the film was recorded at the Everyman Theatre in the Settlement by Spennymoor Town Band. The Band, fresh from the National Brass Band Championships, set the scene at the film premiere by playing to the invited audience and among their repertoire was a specially commissioned piece – the Gallant Sister.

The film is free to view on YouTube; however, we have had such positive feedback about the film from those who have seen it, that the Society hopes to take up the Council’s welcome offer of another showing at the Town Hall in the near future.

Tudhoe & Spennymoor Local History Society




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The town of Spennymoor, and the villages of Byers Green, Kirk Merrington and Tudhoe, are in the North East of England, situated on high land above the south side of the Wear Valley between the City of Durham and Bishop Auckland.

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Spennymoor Town Council,
Town Hall,
County Durham.
DL16 6DG