atherton images

Home

History >

The project

Photo Gallery

Search Names on Cenotaph

History of Atherton War Memorial

The memorial was designed by Mr. Arthur John Hope, who became a senior partner in the architectural firm of Bradshaw, Gass and Hope of Bolton in 1902. Mr Hope was a local resident and lived at The Woodlands, Atherton.

Amongst other projects in which the company was involved were the Manchester Royal Exchange, various town halls, a general hospital in Glamorgan and the extensions to Manchester College of Technology.

The Atherton Cenotaph was constructed in Darley Dale stone, which it is understood is fairly unique in our area. Upon each side of the central column are four vertical plaques containing the names of the fallen of the First World War. Around the base of the structure are four further horizontal plaques containing the names of the fallen of the Second World War.

Saturday 12th January 1922

On Saturday 21st January 1922 the Atherton War Memorial was unveiled by Private J. Roylance, a former soldier of the 1st/5th Manchester Regiment, who had been blinded in action during the Great War.

Up to 3,000 people gathered about the monument in Leigh Road to pay tribute to the memory of those who had fallen. Shortly after noon it appeared that the ceremony would be marred by inclement weather, but towards the time appointed for the formation of the procession the rain stopped and allowed the town’s tribute to be paid in comfort.

A large number of people had made their way to Leigh Road long before the procession was formed and a great many more lined Church Street and Market Street as the procession, headed by the Mounted Police Band and the Atherton Temperance Band, made its way to the memorial site.

A fair number of parents and relatives of fallen sailors and soldiers walked, but the majority of bereaved relatives were too deeply effected by the occasion to take part in the procession.

About 150 former sailors and soldiers, most of whom were wearing their medal ribbons, and led by former Lieutenants F. Greenhalgh and M.S. Jackson, marched behind the Atherton Public Band from their club in High Street to the Town Hall. When proceeding along Market Street others could not resist paying homage to their fallen comrades and before the Punch Bowl had been reached the number had increased to 300.

Behind the members of the District Council and the War Memorial Committee walked members of the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade, led by Divisional Superintendents Robinson and Mrs. Skirrow. On arrival at the memorial site, the hymn ‘O God, our help in ages past’ was sung, after which the Rev. M. Rowe fervently offered the special prayer.

Mr. J. Kay, JP, CC, who presided, said that they had met that afternoon to pay a tribute of respect and honour to those sons of Atherton who had made the great sacrifice in defence of home, country and empire. They little thought that at the time that they responded to the country’s call, what the terrible toll was to be. It was fitting that the township should do what it could to perpetuate the memory of those fallen heroes and to offer our deepest sympathies to the relatives of those fathers, husbands, brothers and sons, whose names they were going to unveil on the memorial.

They knew that their memories were more deeply engrave on the memories of the bereaved than monuments could provide. But they knew that those who had fallen would appreciate the spirit which had brought about today’s ceremony.

The monument was then unveiled by Private Roylance, after which a laurel wreath was laid by Miss Gertrude Bullough. The dedication was then read by the Rev. W.H. Bass. The united choirs of Atherton Baptists, the Parish Church, the Wesleyans, the Unitarians, St. Richards and Independent Methodists, conducted by Mr. G. Meadows, sang the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’, accompanied by Dr. R.H. Mort and Mr. A. Danby.

In presenting the memorial to the town, Mr. Miles Bullough, JP, said the monument to the gallant men who went out to the war, which had been erected by public conscription, contained the names of 327 fallen soldiers. He then asked Mr. Kay, as the representative of the District Council, to accept the monument in safe keeping to perpetuate the memory of their fallen heroes.

On behalf of the Council, Mr. Kay tendered heartfelt thanks and deepest gratitude to the subscribers through whose generosity and public spirit the memorial had been erected, and to the architect and designer, Mr. Hope of Bolton.

After the singing of the hymn ‘O valiant hearts’, the Rev. Bass gave the Benediction, which was followed by the ‘Last Post; played by Drummer W.P. Murphy of the Lancashire Fusiliers based at Bury.

The singing of the National Anthem concluded what was for all a deeply impressive service.

The 327 soldiers who fell in World War I represented 58 different regiments. The biggest losses were shared by the Manchester Regiment (77), the Lancashire Fusiliers (31), Royal Field Artillery (20), the North Lancashire Regiment (18), Kings Own Royal Lancaster Regiment (16), The Kings Own Scottish Borderers (12) and the Royal Welch Fusiliers (11)

Amongst the fallen were 2 members of the Royal Navy and 3 local men who served with the Australian Army and 2 who served with the Canadian Forces.

Remembrance Sunday November 1949

Watched by a large crowd, the Chairman of Atherton Council, Councillor H.E. Heyes, JP, unveiled plaques on Atherton War Memorial in memory of those Atherton men who gave their lives during the 1939-45 war. He was accompanied by the Clerk of the Council, Mr. S.G. Blakeborough, members of the Council and members of His Majesty’s Forces and ex-Service men and women.

They had walked in procession from Market Square accompanied by members of the Police, Fire Brigade, Army Cadets, the Ambulance Brigade, Girl Guides and Boy Scouts and were led by the Atherton Temperance Band and the Salvation Army Band.

In his speech Councillor H.E. Heyes said ‘In 1922, 27 years ago, the people of this township gathered together to hallow this spot and to dedicate this memorial in honoured memory of those who gave their lives in the First World War. Year by year on this day we have remembered them and it was no fault of theirs that 21 years after the First World War ended the Second World War should begin.’

After Councillor Heyes had unveiled the plaques they were dedicated by the Rev. Canon C.K.K. Prosser, Vicar of Howe Bridge and Rural Dean of Leigh.

Following the dedication several relatives laid wreaths at the foot of the Cenotaph. The two minutes silence was observed and prayers for peace and remembrance were offered.

A total of 109 casualties of the Second World War are dedicated on the memorial. The largest number of casualties were suffered by the Royal Air Force (24), the Royal Navy (14), the Royal Artillery (12), Lancashire Fusiliers (7), Manchester Regiment (5) and the Royal Army Service Corps (5).

Included amongst the fallen are 2 local men who served with the Royal Canadian Air Force, 2 who served with the Royal Marines and a member of the Civil Defence Corps.