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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Oldest civic memorial?


Roger D

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Looking around Prescot Museum yesterday I noticed that Prescot`s civic war memorial was unveiled on 9th September 1916. Obviously there were lots of war shrines and private memorials by then however I was surprised a formal civic memorial, that is still the Prescott memorial today, went up so quickly. Any ideas on where the first civic memorial that is still used today appeared?

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Roger

Glad you found the memorial of interest. Did you stroll along from the musuem to the memorial itself?

The full story of the memorial is on this page on my site -

http://prescot-rollofhonour.info/civic_memorial

The local authority have submitted an application to English Heritage to thave the memorial listed. Outcome awaited.

On more than on occasion on this forum, I have made the assertion that I believe Prescot's Civic Memorial to be the oldest in the UK. There are lots of screen windows and plaques in churches and schools, etc., but I don't believe there is an older civic memorial. The fact that Cllr Lucas, who commissioned the memorial, planned it as early as July 1915, when the war was less that a year old, is quite telling, in my opinion.

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I actually meant to add a link to your site, very impressive. I didn't pop along this time. I know Prescot well. I spent three years at Liverpool University supporting Prescot Cables and have visited the memorial several times without realising quite how old it was. There`s certainly nothing around here as old. If it is the first I`m surprised nothing was made of that at the time. Certainly post war the villages around Aldershot who were quick off the mark tended to get this mentioned in the press. Common sense says there must be a real chance it is then oldest though.

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Brightwalton in Berkshire has a war memorial dating from November 1916, not quite as early as Prescot. The inscription read "To the Glory of God and in memory of the men who fell in the Great War 1914 - 19 ".

It was a bit of a reclamation project, some staddle stones, the base of the old village cross, a cross saved from the rebuild of a nearby church - only the stone shaft was new.

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I would second Steve McNulty in saying that The Prescot Memorial may be the first. Donated in 1915 by Councillor Lucas and unveiled September 1916. Each year on the anniversary of the unveiling they held a Monument day. So in fact Prescot was the first to hold a Remembrance event around a Civic Monument for all those Killed. I know that families from the surrounding Townships would attend this event just so they could lay a wreath for their soldier. I have al newspaper articles relating to this Monument.

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Does this count?

A Monument erected in York Minster to the memory of Rear-Admiral Sir Cristopher-Craddock and the officers and men who fell with him in the naval battle off Coronel early in the war.........unveiled This appears in the Hull Daily Mail - Friday 9 June 1916 (it doesn't give the exact date of the unveiling, but after this date)

Mike

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  • 2 weeks later...

Good spot. I'll change my description of Prescot's to "one of the earliest....."

:)

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Although there is no reason seriously to dispute the antiquity of the Rawtenstall War Memorial, I find it slightly odd that the very detailed War Memorials Archive entry gives the date of the unveiling only as "September 1915", without an actual day.

Perhaps someone closer to the scene would care to investigate further and see that the War Memorials Archive entry is updated.

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Interesting.......

Burnley News, July 3rd 1929

Though it probably isn;t the same one as referred to earlier

post-1356-0-01655400-1400242792_thumb.pn

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Although clearly not the earliest the memorial at Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire was unveiled on 3rd June 1917. I find it odd that this memorial should carry the years 1914-1918 from its unveiling

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Rawtenstall.

"This cross was erected by Carrie Whitehead, September 1915.
That it might be some comfort to those who lost men very dear to them"

DSC04954.jpg

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So the inscription itself on the Rawtenstall memorial gives no more precise date than "September 1915". It is also apparent that, like the Prescot memorial, it was a personal initiative at private expense.

As to the absence of a precise date, there are two possibilities:

1. There was no unveiling or other ceremony, and as the actual installation took more than one day to complete, it was left simply as the relevant month.

2. There was some formality, but the inscription was added long afterwards, when no-one could remember the actual date - not very likely.

It seems unlikely that, even without any ceremony, there was no mention in the local press, so a trawl during September 1915 might well be profitable.

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  • 2 years later...

A service was held recently at Prescot (9th September) on the 100th anniversary of the unveiling of the Civic Memorial. I was delighted to be asked to speak about the history of the memorial, after which Lord Derby gave a reading and the names of the fallen were read out.

 

One member of the local "Friends of..." had pursued my claim about the memorial being the oldest with IWM and a few days later received the following message from them...

 

 

Snap 2016-09-23 at 15.43.56.png

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  • 3 weeks later...

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