After years in the planning, the newly renovated Congleton Cenotaph was officially unveiled at a dedication event on Sunday 19 September 2021.
The dedication service recognised the improved site that now displays just over 600 names of all the local men and women who lost their lives through serving their Country. The Lawton Street site is now a safer, more attractive, and fitting place for people to visit.
The project was headed up by The Congleton Partnership in conjunction with Congleton Town Council supported by a band of volunteer residents, members of local organisations, businesses, and councillors. The old site was showing signs of wear, had poor access for anyone with a disability and more crucially, close on 250 names of the casualties were not recorded on the plaque.
To right this wrong, the plans involved extending the site to include more plaques for the names, situating three flagpoles and developing an improved elevated position for the retained 1920’s granite Celtic Wheel to stand proudly at the centre of the new Cenotaph. The refurbished memorial site now benefits improved access for all and a much improved landscaped appearance.
Portland stone plaques, quarried in Dorset were sourced to contain the 250+ names added to the Great War listing, some of which died of their war wounds as late as 1932. A service person killed in an airship disaster in 1923 is also included. The 14 panels have been engraved to the standard required by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The work has been carried out by Midland Masonry, specialist in this kind of work. Project managed by John K Carter with Quantity Surveyor support from Mark Spendor (Stringer and Pickford).
The old War Memorial was unveiled by the Lord Lieutenant of the County, Brigadier General W. Bromley Davenport on Armistice day 11 November 1923. The Town Burgesses decreed that only 236 names should go on the accompanying name panels and people were invited to put their relatives’ names forward for selection. Many people entitled to be included on the war memorial were denied a place. Originally 107 names were added to the Congleton Cenotaph from World War Two. A further 21 names from WW2 have been added to the new Cenotaph, as well as the names of one man killed in Korea, one in the Falklands, and one from 2007. Space will be left on the last panel for future use, which hopefully will never be needed.
To make the build possible, Congleton had three years to raise the necessary funds. Consultations, exhibitions, presentations, appeals, social media and articles in the Congleton Chronicle helped to drive the fundraising activity.
Most funds needed to complete the project were raised through grants and pledges. To carve the names alone onto the new stones amounted to £19,000. The Congleton Partnership and Congleton Town Council would like to thank residents, relatives of the fallen, local trusts, local businesses, local clubs and organisations, plus local statutory bodies for their kind and generous donation. A Friends of the Cenotaph board will be sited as a tribute to all who have been able to support the project through finance and in kind.
Town Mayor, Councillor Denis Murphy said: “It is important that we remember and honour all the local people who have lost their lives whilst serving their country. I am delighted that we finally have a cenotaph site that does this, and I would like to thank everyone who has made this possible. The dedication to the previous site was held on the 11 November 1923. We hope that local people will continue to come to this site to reflect and remember for many decades to come.”
The Cenotaph will then be fully opened and (Covid restrictions permitting) the next official event will be welcoming the usual large crowds that normally attend the Armistice Day Remembrance event in November 2021.