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“…. in the grass, which might be levelled and kept mown, it would stand alone, in simple dignity, with ample space on every side, and picturesque surroundings which would set it off ……”
When the War Memorial was first proposed, as a tribute to the memory of those brave villagers who had gone off to fight in the Great War and failed to return, money was raised by public subscription and a generous donation by Bluemels Bros. The design was by Mr W.H. Wood, architect to the Newcastle Cathedral authorities, and the total cost was £250.
There was a difference of opinion as to where the Memorial should be located and the people subscribing to it were asked to choose between a site on the Derry next to the village pump and sign-post and the site opposite what we now call the Old Post Office.
The location chosen, away from the hustle and bustle of the Derry, on the piece of land opposite the Old Post Office near to the entrance to the road to the Church allowed people to stand to read the names and contemplate the sacrifice made in peaceful surroundings.
In September 1921 the Parish Council agreed to be responsible for the repairs to the Memorial. In April 1926, a deputation from the local branch of the British Legion attended the Annual Parish Meeting regarding the repairs they thought were required. These included cleaning the stone, picking out the letters of the names of the fallen in black, providing and fixing oak posts and painting them white, providing chain between the posts and having the path to the Memorial re-laid.
It was proposed that subscription lists be put out and if these failed to raise sufficient funds “some sort of entertainment be got up to cover same”. Repair work was completed in 1927 and in January 1928, at a Parish Council meeting, it was resolved to pay the account for the Memorial repairs and to raise money to cover the costs, owing to a lack of subscriptions, by holding a Dance.
In 1950, Dr Yardley paid to have the concrete posts installed, which are still visible today, as a thank you for the kindness shown to him by the village.
The Parish Council have arranged for the Memorial to be cleaned several times over the years, but recently the effects of weathering on the concrete rendered base have led to it requiring extensive repairs - the difficulty has been finding anyone prepared to tackle it.
The Parish Council decided that the base should be replaced with Clipsham Stone, quarried in the same place as the original, rather than just re-rendering it and having to repair it again in 5 or 10 years.
This turned out to be a sound decision, because the poor condition of the support material, that was only revealed as the work progressed, meant that scaffolding had to be brought in and an extra section of Clipsham Stone had to be inserted to give the support to the structure, which it was lacking.
The cost of the repairs also increased, to nearly £18,000, but the end result is hopefully once again a fitting tribute to those from the village “to whom we owe our freedom and our homes, and to the memory of all who give their lives in conflict."
Up to date
On Sunday March 13 2011 an honour guard of two members of the Great War Society stood either side
of the War Memorial with heads bowed and rifles pointed towards the ground. This was a simple but
Nearby another three members and a bugler stood awaiting the arrival of the rest of the troop. Just before 11am a larger contingent of Great War Society 'soldiers' marched from the village hall along to the war memorial. Here they would lay a wreath of fresh flowers, made by Ruth Underwood, in memory of the fallen soldiers from Wolston. The bugler sounded the Last Post and the troops stood observing a dignified silence. A small group of villagers had gathered to take part in the event and they were caught up in the moment. Traffic had come to a halt but all too soon the "spell" was broken.
The troop then marched up Main Street into Warwick Road and on into Stretton Road, heading for the obelisk on the A45 London Road. Here they were due to take part in the annual service of remembrance marking the King's review of the "Incomparable" 29th (Regular) Division prior to their departure for the Dardanelles in 1915. Our thanks to the "Great War Society for the dignified way in which they keep alive the memory of the soldiers of the Great War, and remember fallen heroes.
Here is a link that records the details of those names recorded on the Wolston war memorial.
Look here for details of the original inspection of troops by King George V on March 15th, 1915.