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Latitude: 53.5296 / 53°31'46"N
Longitude: -2.278 / 2°16'40"W
OS Eastings: 381669
OS Northings: 403699
OS Grid: SD816036
Mapcode National: GBR DWJM.MG
Mapcode Global: WH983.ZJDZ
Plus Code: 9C5VGPHC+VR
Entry Name: Prestwich War Memorial
Listing Date: 4 April 2018
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1440259
Location: Bury, M25
Electoral Ward/Division: Sedgley
Built-Up Area: Manchester
Traditional County: Lancashire
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater Manchester
A temporary First World War Memorial of around 1918, relocated around 1970, comprising a timber cross with stopped chamfers and pegged joints, set on a base of two concrete steps with added granite plaques.
First World War memorial erected around 1918, relocated around 1970 with some additions.
MATERIALS: timber, thought to be oak.
PLAN: square in section.
DESCRIPTION: standing within a garden in front of the former library (now a theatre), on two square concrete steps, and facing east. The square-section timber cross, approximately 7ft tall, has stopped chamfers to all four lengths. The horizontal arm clasps the shaft with proud fixing pegs or bolts on the face; five to the front and four to the rear. Paint or pitch has been applied, giving a black colour. The cross stands in a socket in the double-stepped base. Granite plaques thought to date from the late C20 are affixed to the eastern risers. The upper plaque is inscribed:
1914-1919 1939-1945/ TO THOSE WHO FELL
While the lower plaque is inscribed:
THE BODIES OF THE HEROES REST IN MANY LANDS/ BUT HERE THE SYMBOL OF THEIR GLORY STANDS.
The aftermath of the First World War saw the biggest single wave of public commemoration ever with tens of thousands of memorials erected across England, as a result both of the huge impact the loss of three quarters of a million British lives had on communities, and of the official policy of not repatriating the dead, which meant that the memorials provided the main focus of the grief felt at this great loss. Many communities erected memorials of a temporary nature, often while hostilities continued, which were replaced with more permanent tributes after the war.
Plans for commemoration of the Fallen of Prestwich were being made by 1915, when repairs to the parish church were proposed. By 1918 a peace offering of £500 had been made for repairs to the bells, and by 1921 the memorial in St Mary’s churchyard (National Heritage List for England (List) entry 1411837) had been erected and money had also been raised by the mothers of the Fallen for the Memorial Screen in the church. This war memorial formerly stood in the centre of the Gardner Road recreation ground (‘Gardner Mount’), and is marked on the 1932 1:10,560 Ordnance Survey (OS) map. It is unlikely that this simple wooden cross would have been erected around the same time as these other memorials, and so close. It is therefore thought likely that it was intended as a temporary war memorial. It might have originally stood in the churchyard, but is more likely to have been at Gardner Mount from the start.
The memorial is still shown in the recreation ground on the 1:10,560 OS map of 1968. However, by the 1971 1:1,250 OS map, it is no longer marked there. The equivalent map for the memorial’s present location is dated 1973, and the memorial is marked there on that map. It is therefore thought to have been removed from the recreation ground between 1968 and 1971, and to have been re-erected in its present position between 1968 and 1973.
Many temporary memorials, probably thousands, were erected until more permanent forms of commemoration could be agreed upon and built. Some indicated what a permanent memorial might look like, and they provided a physical, public encouragement to donate funds or prompt to submit names for inclusion. The UK war memorials database lists a number of temporary examples, mostly known only from photographs. Many were in plywood or timber, some in concrete, one in topiary, and one even made of snow with letters of coals spelling ‘PB war memorial RIP’ (this last one created by ex-servicemen in exasperation at the slow pace of erecting a permanent memorial in Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire). However it is extremely unusual for these temporary monuments to survive to the present; no other extant examples were known at the time of listing (2018).
Prestwich War Memorial, a temporary First World War memorial of around 1918, relocated around 1970, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on the local community, and the sacrifice it made in the conflicts of the C20.
* as an extremely rare example of a surviving temporary war memorial, still in use in a new location, its minimal decorative treatment reflecting its original intended short lifespan.
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