THOUSANDS of people flocked to an Old Basing fete that turned back the clock to commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War.

Around 2,500 attended the packed programme of activities at the Old Basing Royal British Legion WW1 Fete, in Crown Lane, last Saturday despite the unsettled weather.

The Mayor of Basingstoke and Deane Councillor Roger Gardiner, Mayoress Tricia Gardiner, and Basingstoke MP Maria Miller were among the guests at the event which aimed to recreate what the mood was like as the war broke out on August 4, 1914.

The event was funded by a £10,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery fund and a £2,500 grant from Hampshire County Council.

An exhibition, which included information about the Royal British Legion, newspaper coverage of the four-year conflict, and profiles of the 26 men from Old Basing who lost their lives in the conflict between 1914 and 1918, was on show to visitors.

Tours around a Chinook from RAF Odiham also kept children entertained throughout the day whilst demonstrations of an 18-pound First World War field gun by the Garrison World War One re-enactment group captivated older visitors.

Musical performances by the Old Basing branch’s drum band, the Hannington Silver Band and a modern interpretation of a suffragette demonstration by a dance group from the Popley Spotlight Centre, in Shakespeare Road, were all part of the event.

Rick Bourne, chairman of the Old Basing Royal British Legion branch, told The Gazette: “I am delighted with the way it went.

“The RAF Chinook was a massive draw and the WWI field gun has been good too. We had one or two reservations about doing this because there is nothing to celebrate, but the mood in the country even when the war was declared was ‘Let’s go and get them, and it will all be over by Christmas’.

Grandmother-of-two Margaret Payne, of Whitehead Close, Lychpit added: “It has been brilliant. It is a good way to mark the centenary, and it makes younger generations aware of what the First World War was, and even our generation, because we weren’t there.”