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Latitude: 53.3728 / 53°22'22"N
Longitude: -2.7308 / 2°43'51"W
OS Eastings: 351471
OS Northings: 386463
OS Grid: SJ514864
Mapcode National: GBR 9YCF.KN
Mapcode Global: WH87K.0HW6
Entry Name: War Memorial, Victoria Park
Listing Date: 21 August 2007
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1392210
English Heritage Legacy ID: 503071
Location: Halton, WA8
Electoral Ward/Division: Appleton
Built-Up Area: Widnes
Traditional County: Lancashire
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire
Church of England Parish: Widnes St John
Church of England Diocese: Liverpool
War Memorial, Victoria Park
First and Second World Wars memorial, 1921, by Harold E Davies, sculpture by Herbert Tyson Smith, Portland stone and York stone. Second World War inscription and plaques added in 1950. Tall obelisk-style design on square plinth and stepped platform surmounted by flaming urn, approximately 50 feet high.
Stepped square platform with angled corners. Large, tall square York stone plinth above with angled corners set forward like buttresses. Sides of plinth set with 30 large bronze tablets bearing names of First World War fallen. Painted carvings of laurel wreaths to each angled corner.
Smaller rectangular bronze tablets to top of plinth bear names of Second World War fallen. Front (south) face: Inscription across top of small plaques reads 'IN MEMORY OF THE MEN OF WIDNES WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES/1939 - 1945/UNVEILED BY ALDERMAN T SWALE MAYOR 12TH APRIL 1950'. Wide inset panel to centre of WWI names bears inscription 'ERECTED BY THE CITIZENS OF THE BOROUGH OF WIDNES/IN COMMEMORATION OF THE/MEN OF THIS PLACE WHO MADE/THE SUPREME SACRIFICE IN/THE GREAT WAR OF 1914 - 1919/THIS FOUNDATION STONE WAS/LAID 28TH AUGUST 1920 BY ALDERMAN EDWIN WOOD - MAYOR'. Remaining faces of plinth bear inscription '1914 - 1919' above lower plaques and '1939 - 1945' above upper plaques.
Tall obelisk-like column of Portland stone with colonnaded base. South face of column base: Carved bas-relief depicting Borough coat of arms and motto 'INDUSTRIA DITAT'. Richly carved stonework surround to upper part replicated on each base face.
Inscription beneath relief reads 'THIS MEMORIAL WAS UNVEILED/ SEPTEMBER 28TH 1921 BY THE/RIGHT HON THE EARL OF DERBY KG'. W face: 'TO OUR/GLORIOUS/DEAD/1914 - 1919/1939 - 1945'.
North face: 'THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR EVERMORE' and carved foliage design beneath.
East face: 'THE BLOOD/OF HEROES/IS THE SEED/OF FREEDOM'. Large carved crosses set in relief to each face of top part of column; those to north and south faces displaying carved palm branches beneath, those to east and west faces displaying carved laurel wreaths. Urn with flames surmounts top of column.
HISTORY: Several designs were submitted for the commission of a war memorial at Victoria Park. Harold E Davies' design was finally selected and the memorial was unveiled in a ceremony on 28th September 1921 after a civic procession from Widnes Town Hall led by the Mayor and the 17th Earl of Derby, K.G.. A further eight bronze plaques bearing the names of 289 local men killed during WWII were unveiled in a ceremony in April 1950 led by the Mayor.
The memorial cost £6000 and was paid for by public subscription. Herbert Tyson Smith was the sculptor and Messrs Stewart Jones, the builders. A further £4000 raised was used to establish a social fund for the poor of Widnes.
Documents and periodicals were built into the foundations of the memorial as a time capsule and record of the time to be uncovered by future generations.
A small number of bronze name plaques were stolen in the late 1970s/early 1980s but all were later recovered and reinstated although some were damaged and had to be replaced. It is unknown which are the more modern replacements.
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: Intricately carved and highly imposing war memorial in an obelisk design dating to 1921 and commemorating the men of Widnes who lost their lives during the First and Second World Wars (plaques for the latter were added in 1950 along with an inscription).
Incorporating symbolic imagery, richly detailed carvings, and standing more than 50 feet high, the memorial is a striking and prominent architectural feature within Victoria Park and the local area. The fact that the memorial's sculptural work was carried out by the nationally significant artist Herbert Tyson Smith further enhances the memorial's special architectural and historic interest. Consequently it is listed at grade II.
This List entry has been amended to add sources for War Memorials Online and the War Memorials Register. These sources were not used in the compilation of this List entry but are added here as a guide for further reading, 26 January 2017.
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