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Commemorating the fallen from World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945)

The Clock Tower

War Memorial

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THE PROPOSAL FOR A MEMORIAL

The actual idea for a memorial began at a local council meeting on the 2nd November 1916, two years before the end of the Great War, when local councillor Joseph Sheldon put the idea forward.  He wanted to come up with a way of commemorating the local men who had fought in the defence of their country and suggested that a public meeting should be called to appoint a committee to move this forward.  He thought the time was very opportune, for there was “plenty of money in the district,” and that the public should be approached about raising subscriptions.  The resolution was carried unanimously, but the Chairman thought it was rather early to take the matter in hand because he believed that the war was a long way from being finished.  A public meeting was arranged for later that month in the Works School.

At this public meeting, which was held on a Monday evening on the 13th November, Councillor Jones pointed out that there was need of a suitable building where concerts, entertainments and meetings might be held.  No other suggestions were made, and it was decided that a committee be formed to draw up various schemes, which would then be submitted at a further public meeting, and that representatives be appointed from societies in the district to form the committee.  The council’s assistant clerk Mr. G. Dyson was unanimously appointed secretary, and another meeting was to be held in December.  A representative of the Catholics, Mr. D. O’Connor, said that the Catholics were “quite in sympathy” with the idea that something should be done but he suggested “that the names of the shirkers, who had rushed into the works and got behind a badge” should be posted on the Council’s notice board [see note below about badges]

Nothing seems to have come of these early meetings.  At the Council meeting held in early December it was reported that the next meeting had been arranged for the 11th December, but there was nothing at all reported in the local newspapers, so it seems as if it did not go ahead.  At the Council’s monthly meeting the following January the scheme wasn’t even mentioned.  It wasn’t until February 1919, three months after the end of the War, that the matter was brought up again, and once again the Council decided to hold a public meeting about a War Memorial and a notice was placed in the newspapers to advertise it.

 

Sadly, attendance was very poor, with only 81 people turning up.  Joseph Sheldon said the first thing to do was to determine if there should be a memorial, and the Chairman invited suggestions.  Ben Hey asked if the Council had come prepared with any scheme; they had not.  Albert Elson suggested a public hall capable of seating about 1500 people, with committee rooms attached, and also swimming baths and slipper baths.  This was thought to be a good suggestion, but rather expensive, at a cost of around £1 per head of the population.  Once again it was decided that a committee should be formed representing all the organisations in the district, including for example the ladies’ guilds and associations.  Mr. Sheldon was later appointed as the Council’s representative on the committee.  Initially it seemed that the idea of a public hall, with a memorial on the wall outside, would be the final decision, but still nothing happened.

 

A whole year passed before a notice appeared in the newspapers advertising another public meeting, to be held in the British Schools on 9th July 1920.  This meeting, although well-advertised, was very poorly attended, the local newspaper describing the local spirit as “apathetic.”  The idea of a public hall was discarded, and it was resolved that, subject to the site being obtainable, a public tower, with a clock, would be erected on Bocking Hill.  The plans for this were on public display during December 1920 and at another public meeting the plans were finally approved.  Subscribers were sought to raise money, which was not initially popular.  The land on which it was to be built was donated by Mr. Rimington Wilson of Broomhead Hall.  In January 1921 a letter appeared in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph from Mr. Coultas, the Chairman of the Council, appealing for funds for the memorial.  The estimated cost of the clock tower was said to be around £2,000, of which about £1,000 had already been promised or subscribed in sums varying from £5 to £500.  He thought that it should not be hard for a community of nearly 9,000 to subscribe the remaining £1,000 in smaller subscriptions.

 

In August that year the local newspaper was asking: “War Memorial.  ‘To be or not to be?’”  They reported that this question was causing many of the residents who had subscribed towards the Memorial to seriously consider if some of them would live long enough to see it built!  “The clock tower,” they wrote, “which it was proposed to erect on Nanny Hill, is still far away, owing, mainly, to the apathetic attitude shown by a great many people towards the project.  When it is remembered that nearly all the adjoining hamlets have their individual shrine, at which those who are left behind can place their tokens of remembrance, surely, in memory of those brave lads and lassies who gave their all for our liberty, the people of Stocksbridge are not going to further delay the memorial.  Perhaps now that the industrial clouds are clearer, we shall not long have to wait for our district memorial.” 

 

In fact, the people had to wait another two years, because the foundation stone was not laid until the 14th July 1923.  It was eventually announced that the memorial would take the form of a stone clock tower, with bells to chime the quarters.  The chosen architect was Mr. Wynyard Dixon of Sheffield, and the builders were to be J. Bradbury and Sons of Sheffield.  The clock would be erected by W. Potts and Sons of Leeds; the tower would be visible for miles, and equipped with a peal of bells to chime the quarters, half-hours and hours, and would have four clock faces.  

 

NOTE: these delays in getting anything done can perhaps be explained by a lack of money.  When Mr. Sheldon first proposed his scheme in 1916 he said there was “plenty of money in the district.”  Whether this was true or not, there certainly wasn’t after the War.  The 1920s were hard times, with many out of work and widespread coal stoppages.  Relief funds were organised locally; in July 1921 the local paper reported that relief had been granted to 1690 people.  359 families had been served and 6039 tickets for soup had been issued, with 378 gallons distributed.  Times were hard and perhaps it wasn’t apathy but poverty which affected the subscriptions to the War Memorial.  Not being able to feed your family or pay your rent would have had a big effect.

 

NOTE: “Behind a badge” is a reference to the “On War Service” or OWS badges worn by civilians during the First World War in order to indicate that the person wearing it was on engaged in important war work.  Several of these badges were officially produced and distributed nationally but many more were produced privately by companies to support their employees.  Before conscription was introduced in 1916, the army relied on voluntary recruitment. It was assumed by many that a man not in uniform was avoiding joining up and was therefore often accused of shirking their duty to their country. The famous white feather campaign saw men not in uniform presented with a white feather as a symbol of cowardice.  The official badges were intended to prove that the wearer was doing their duty to their country in a time of war in a different way. They were not in uniform, but they may have been working in munitions factories, steelworks or in the dockyards carrying out work that was vital to the war effort.  Female shift workers also wore the badges, which could give priority boarding and fare concessions on public transport, as well as indicating that there was nothing disreputable about these ladies travelling alone at night.

https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/on-war-service-badge

LAYING THE FOUNDATION STONE

Finally, in July 1923, everything was ready for a ceremony to celebrate the laying of the foundation stone.  It was hoped that the opening ceremony would take place on Armistice Day, although in the event it wasn’t quite ready by then.

 

The ceremony was well attended, with around 3,000 people turning out to see the general manager of Stocksbridge Works, Mr. Scott-Smith, lay the stone on Saturday 14th July 1923 at 2.30pm.  He was assisted by Joseph Sheldon, who opened the proceedings.  He presented Mr. Scott Smith with a silver trowel, suitably inscribed, for the stone-laying, on behalf of Mr. Wynyard Dixon.

 

The Stocksbridge Prize Band headed a procession from the British Legion headquarters (at the Works Council School) and all public bodies and friendly societies had been invited to attend.  Attendees included ex-servicemen, members of the British Legion, the Fire Brigade, members of the local council and representatives from local Friendly Societies, the Stocksbridge Choral Union, the Boy Scouts and local school children.  Mr. Rimington Wilson of Broomhead Hall, who had donated the land for the memorial, was unavoidably detained in London.  The Stocksbridge Choral Union sang “The Vale of Rest” [possibly Mendelssohn’s Ruhetal or Valley of Rest] and scholars from the various schools sang “The Supreme Sacrifice.”

 

The names of the fallen were read out, and it was announced that these would be inscribed upon the memorial.  Any names that had been omitted should be given in to the clerk as soon as possible.  The “Last Post” and “Reveille” were then sounded by buglers of the York and Lancaster Regiment from Pontefract.

THE UNVEILING AND DEDICATION

The tower was not open in time for the Armistice Day service on the 11th November 1923 as had been hoped; instead, the memorial service took place at Stocksbridge Parish Church.  The Roll of Honour was read out and the “Last Post” blown by Bugler E. Batty. 

Five months after the foundation stone was laid, the memorial was completed, and the unveiling and dedication ceremony took place on Saturday 1st December 1923 at 2.30pm.  The Stocksbridge Brass Band headed a procession to the memorial, playing Beethoven’s “Death of a Hero.”  Around 4,000 people attended, joined by ex-servicemen (proudly bearing their medals), the widows and parents of those who had lost their lives, members of the Council, the Bishop of Sheffield, Stocksbridge Brass Band, the Stocksbridge Choral Union, Boy Scouts, local worthies, and representatives from various organisations.  A special area had been reserved for relatives of the fallen.  Some members of the Stocksbridge Club and Institute football club accepted an invitation to attend the ceremony, but this resulted in their club being fined for failing to play their scheduled match with Ewden Valley in a game on that day.  

 

Joseph Sheldon opened the proceedings, which commenced with the buglers from the York and Lancaster Regiment sounding the Last Post.  Hymns were sung and Mr. Rimington Wilson unveiled the bronze tablets inscribed with the names of one woman and the 106 men who had died.  Mr. Wilson said that it was an honour to unveil a memorial to those brave lads who had written such a glorious page in the history of Stocksbridge and district.  He thought that no finer site nor design could have been chosen.  

 

At the conclusion of the unveiling ceremony the architect, Mr. Wynyard Dixon, presented the key to the tower to Mr. Rimington Wilson, who unlocked the oak door.  The Memorial Deeds were handed to the Council.   The Bishop of Sheffield dedicated the memorial, after which Colonel Hodgkinson asked for the observance of the silence.  Major McIntyre started the clock and chimes, and the buglers sounded the reveille.  A large number of wreaths and floral tributes were laid around the memorial, poppies being very prominent. 

 

The brass band then headed a procession down the hill to St. Matthias church, where another service was held.  The order of the procession, printed in the Souvenir Booklet, was that the band was followed by the widows and parents of the fallen, ex-servicemen, the bishop and the ministers, members of the council, the War Memorial Committee and the Choral Union.  Large numbers were unable to find room in the church, and the aisles and naves were filled by people standing.  The Sheffield Daily Telegraph reported: “The service was inspiring and impressive, especially the splendid singing of choirs comprising the Stocksbridge Choral Union.  Ministers of all denominations were present and took part in the service.

During the service the Roll of Honour was read by Colonel Hodgkinson.  The Bishop said that although there were other memorials in Stocksbridge the one they had just unveiled was unique.  Everyone could see it and hear it.  The clock marked the finish of every hour put to our account.  The memorial called upon them to devote their lives to the happiness and peace of others, as did those whose memory they were honouring that day. 

 

The eventual cost of the tower was £1,700.  It commands a view over the valley, has four clock faces and is illuminated at night.  On the heaviest bell with which the hours are struck is cast the following quotation: “At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.”  It was said that the chimes from the clock would always recall the sacrifice and heroism of the war, and they would never forget the men who fell.  

 

To the Honour and Everlasting Memory of the Soldiers, Sailors, and Nurse of the District, who gave their lives for their King and Country in the Great War 1914-1918.

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This rather tatty souvenir programme from the unveiling in December 1923 is in my possession, having been handed down through the family.  My great uncle Winfield Crawshaw was killed in 1917 and the family would have attended this  ceremony and received the booklet and the board containing the Roll of Honour and a photograph.  Click on the pdf button to read the booklet.  More information about Winfield and the Y&L Regiment HERE.

ROLL OF HONOUR WW1

The official souvenir programme lists 107 names.  There are some inconsistencies with the names engraved on the plaques which are affixed to the Clock Tower itself.  These inconsistencies (in bold) are addressed at the end of this list of names. 

 

John Adams; W. Attwood; Alfred Beckett; Arthur Brailsford; William Bramwell; David Ivor Brearley; Thornton Brooke; Sidney Burgin; Anthony Button; Arthur Button; E. R. Buxton; Lucy Castledine; Fred Castledine; Bernie E. Catton; Arthur Couldwell; Oliver Crapper; Winfield Crawshaw; Arnold Crossley; Donald Crossley; William Curley; J. Davies [James]; Leonard Duffield; Mark Dyche; Gam Dyson; Oswald Dyson; Priam Dyson; Frank Eastwood; Charles England; Fred Fieldsend; T. Harry Finkill; Harry Firth; William H. France; James Green; J. Gregory; David E. Gill; Eric L. Gill; S. Haigh; N. Harper [printed booklet, or W. Harper on clock tower]; J. Harrison; Fred Hart; W. H. Hatchett; Harry Herbert; Walter Hey; Walter R. Hill; Friend Hirst; Fred Hollins; George Howarth; Edwin Hukins; Ernest Jackson; Robert Jackson; Walter Johnson; S. G. Jones; Jesse H. Kenworthy; Thomas Keogh; Alex A. Leather; [Arthur Button appears here on the Clock Tower, out of alphabetical order and at the bottom of the plaque]; Stanley V. Lester; Albert Liles; Frank Lievesley; Thomas Maycock; H. Micklethwaite; Thomas Milnes; Michael Maloney; Alfred Morton; Charles F. Murrain; Harry Newton; Clifford Orchard; Thomas Pearson; Amos Perkins; Spencer Race; John Raynes; Leonard Robinson; James Roebuck; Milton Rodgers; Frank Sanderson; Lawrence Sanderson; Willie Sanderson; Dyson Schofield; A. B. Senior; Samuel Senior; Benton Shaw; Douglas Shaw; Eric Sheldon; Harry Smith; Horace Smith; Arthur Smith; Alfred Sutton; Charlie Tattersall; Herbert Thickett; Ernest Tingle; William H. Topps; H. Turner; Bertram Vause; John Wallace; Harry Ward; Clifford Watkinson; Ernest Watson; G. Whittaker; Joseph Whittaker; Percy Whittaker; William J. Williams; James Herbert Withers; Joseph Adin Withers; Henry Oscar Withers; G. Woodcock; Percy Woodhead; William J. Woodhead; Alfred Wright. [At the bottom of the second plaque, the Clock Tower has the names Lucy Castledine, Cyril Dickinson and Cyril Spivey tagged on].  With the names Dickinson and Spivey, that makes 109 names in total.

 

Cyril Dickenson died in 1922. Cause of death was Syncope due to a disabled lung arising from wounds received in action.

 

Cyril Spivey died in 1921.  He was invalided home suffering from valvular disease of the heart, and was only discharged from Wharncliffe War Hospital a few days prior to his death.

 

Arthur Button died in August 1918. I don’t know why Arthur Button’s name appears out of alphabetical order on the Clock Tower.  Michael Parker, writing in his book Poppy People 2 (2009) says, “it’s somewhat puzzling to discover that whilst Arthur’s name is listed in the Roll of Honour that appears in the Clock Tower War Memorial dedication service programme, nevertheless his name does not appear on either the Clock Tower or Bolsterstone war memorials.” NOTE: See the end of this page for further information about Arthur HERE.

 

Lucy Castledine died 24 October 1918.  She had been nursing wounded soldiers at Firvale Military Hospital for 2 years.  Her brother Fred had been killed in action two months previously.

ARMISTICE DAY 1924

In the year after the unveiling, the Clock Tower was insured by the Council with the Ocean Company for £1,500 at the rate of 1/6 percent., with a rebate of 25 percent on a 25 years’ agreement.  Discussions were held about spending money on landscaping.  The War Memorial Committee had handed over some funds to the Parks Committee, and they were to purchase and plant trees and shrubs on the land surrounding the tower.  Some trees were costed at just over £36.  In October, a month before the Armistice, Mr. Wynyard Dixon sent a letter to the Council to complain about the large number of weeds that surrounded the Tower.  The local vicar also wrote to them, asking if they could obtain four vases in which to place flowers round the memorial.  “The present custom of using jam pots certainly ought to be discouraged, and suitable vessels supplied,” he wrote.  This matter had been passed on to Mr. Dixon.  In 1925 the Council reported that it would obtain four “Old Stone” flower holders for use at the War Memorial Clock Tower; whether they did so at that time isn’t certain, because in 1927 the Vicar asked them to purchase some vases, and it was agreed that they would buy a dozen of them.  In 1934 the women’s branch of the British Legion bought some vases, which were dedicated in the war memorial grounds. The emblem of the British Legion, in a floral design, was to be incorporated in the scheme of the “beautification” of the memorial.  The laying out of the Clock Tower gardens would not be done until 1927, however.

 

The first Remembrance Service was held in 1924, because the monument was unveiled a month too late for the 1923 Armistice Day Commemorations.  On Tuesday 11th November the vicar conducted the service in front of a large number of people.  The siren at Stocksbridge Works sounded at 11am to signal the two minutes’ silence; the silence was observed in the works, when all the machinery was stopped, as well as at the service.  The town hall and the Works flew the Union Flag at half-mast.  The first person chosen by the British Legion to lay the first wreath was Mr. Henry Withers.  Four of his sons had served in the War, but only one came home.  It was because Mr. Withers had the most names on the Roll of Honour that he was chosen to place the first wreath.  Henry’s three sons who did not come home were Henry Oscar, James Herbert, and Joseph Adin.  Captain S. Aylmer laid a wreath on behalf of the British Legion, as did Ben Wood, who had lost a leg in the war.  From the top of the tower Bugler G. E. Batty sounded the Last Post and the Reveille, the service being closed by singing the National Anthem.  This was a united service for all the churches.

1925 miscellany

* From 1925 the Stocksbridge Gas Company did not charge for the gas used to illuminate the Clock Tower.  When three new lamps were installed when the gardens were landscaped in 1927, the kind offer was extended to include these lamps, provided that they were not kept burning more than the ordinary hours.  In 1931 the gas company once again showed their generosity when they agreed to provide free gas so that the tower could be floodlit.  The Council had agreed to purchase and install the lamps, which cost around £40, although there had been some objections to this, namely that they had been preaching economy and this scheme would be “sheer, unwarranted waste;” the memorial was already well lit, and floodlighting would be of “no benefit to the district.”  The scheme went ahead though, and it was operational in time for Armistice night, and afterwards for other special occasions.  Four strip lanterns of 1,250 candle power each were installed, and they used 120 cubic feet per hour at a cost of 4½d. per hour.

* On Whit Sunday in May 1925 local school children gathered at the Clock Tower to sing the Whitsuntide hymns prior to a service at St. Matthias.

* In September 1925 the Urban District Council adopted a new design for its Seal, which was to bear an image of the Clock Tower.

* In 1925 Joseph Sheldon, who had done so much to bring a war memorial to Stocksbridge, celebrated his 80th birthday and a dinner was given in his honour at the Railway Dining Rooms. 

Mr. Sheldon had been born at Hathersage and was for some time employed at the private residence of Samuel Fox at Deepcar.  He became chief engineer at the works, resigning this position in 1907.  He was a member of the local Council for nearly 17 years and had been its Chairman.  He was a member of the West Riding County Council, the Stocksbridge Education Committee and the Board of Guardians, as well as being a local representative on the War Pensions Committee.

* The second Armistice Day service took place on the 11th November 1925.  The two minutes’ silence was signalled from Stocksbridge Works.  Dead silence prevailed in the works and in the streets.  The service was attended by the British Legion and relatives of the fallen.  The “Assembly,” “Reveille,” and “Last Post” were sounded by Bugler E. Batty.  Wreaths were placed at the foot of the memorial.

THE 10th ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME 1926

The Battle of the Somme took place on the 1st July 1916, and ten-year anniversary memorial services were held in 1926.  Many Yorkshire units played a part in this battle, sustaining terrible losses.  The Sheffield City Battalion’s position was in front of the village of Serre, and of 758 who went into action only 34 returned unscathed.  On Sunday 4th July 1926, memorial services were held in various parts of the city by ex-Servicemen’s associations to honour their fallen comrades.

 

In Stocksbridge there was a large attendance of ex-Servicemen and others at a memorial service at the Clock Tower.  The service was conducted by the vicar of Stocksbridge, the Rev. J. G. Roberts.  Stocksbridge Prize Band was in attendance.  A wreath was placed on the War Memorial by Mr. Ernest Jubb, who lost an arm in the battle of the Somme.   A collection raised £5 13s. 111/2d.

THE GARDENS ARE LAID OUT

After the Clock Tower was built, it became apparent that Memorial seemed somewhat incomplete, and Mr. Rimington Wilson agreed to sell the surrounding field, containing about 1½ acres.  The price was £200, but he returned £50 of this to the Committee, to be spent on landscaping. 

 

In 1926 the local surveyor was asked by the Council to prepare a lay-out plan of the ground surrounding the memorial, and work began on the landscaping.  After removing a large amount of land some broad steps were installed leading up to the Tower from Manchester Road.  There were concerns from the public that this removal of soil made the land unstable and could eventually cause damage to the memorial, especially taking into account the vibration from all the heavy traffic that passed by.  The Surveyor, however, insisted that there was little risk of any subsidence.  In fact, in later years this land did indeed suffer subsidence, some say because of the work carried out to build the cemetery behind the memorial which destroyed an old water course through some mine workings.  The steps were removed as were the water features.

 

There was some suggestion that a pair of German guns, which had somehow been acquired by the Council as War souvenirs in 1920, should be incorporated into the design.  Joseph Sheldon was vehemently against this, and said that the guns, which had been sited at Knoll Top and Fox Glen, should be sold to the steelworks for scrap.  Mr. Sheldon remarked that there was plenty of evidence of the results of the Great War in the district, such as the disabled men who could be seen around the place.  The people did not need these guns to remind them of the War.  He even wrote to the local paper, and stressed that the guns were inevitably associated with the horrors of war, and no one could say for sure that they were not a means of death to some of the local brave men.  In 1929 the Council was given permission by the Home Office to sell the guns, provided that the proceeds were given to the local branch of the British Legion.  They were finally removed in 1929.  There is more about the guns on The War Years page.

 

The gardens were formally opened Sunday 25th September 1927 by Joseph Sheldon C.C., who had done so much to get the clock tower built in the first place.  He was the oldest man on the council at this time, being in his 82nd year.

 

The Penistone, Stocksbridge & Hoyland Express called the Clock Tower “one of the finest Memorials in England” and reported: “The Memorial is approached by a large and spacious flight of steps enclosed by ornamental stone walls, with recesses in which seats are placed.  The steps to the clock tower are built in concrete, and there are four entrances.  There is also a large centre platform with pool.  The west entrance is marked by crazy flagged approach stone steps, with stone pillars for gates.  Lamps are to be fixed on semi-circular brackets.  Roomy walks are provided, and a band stand erected.  [I don’t think this ever happened].  The whole work has been designed by the Surveyor (Mr. H. M. Aitchison) and carried out in a very efficient manner by the workmen of the Council under the Surveyor's supervision.  The emblem of the British Legion is embodied in the scheme, the work being carried out by Messrs. Fisher and Sibray of Sheffield.  This floral part of the grounds will be maintained by the Stocksbridge Branch of the British Legion.”

The paper reported on the generous support that had been received from both organisations and individuals.  The Tradesmen’s Association donated 100 rose trees and £15 to defray the cost of lamps; they also contributed £10 in 1932 (equivalent to about £550 today) towards the ongoing maintenance of the gardens. Stocksbridge Co-operative Society contributed the fountain, sundial and bird bath, as well as donating £10; Willis Morton and Albert Foster donated some violas; Mr. G. H. Asher and George Watkinson sent wallflowers, marguerites and delphiniums.  The ornamental caps were worked by George Beever, and Harry Armitage supplied the stone.  Mr. W. Chaffey supplied the goldfish for the ornamental pool.  Rhododendrons and other shrubs came from the Mr. Rimington Wilson, who had sadly died at his home, Broomhead Hall, on the 31st March 1927.  He was 74 years old.

About 4,000 people attended the opening of the gardens.  The Scouts and Girl Guides paraded and marched to the memorial, and many school children attended.  Dr. W. M. Robertshaw had been asked to arrange a musical programme for the event.   After the formal opening, the National Anthem was sung, accompanied by the Stocksbridge Old Brass Band.  Ernest Jackson, ex-captain of the local fire brigade, personally attended to the planting of a portion of the grounds in 1928.

The Council were proud of what they had achieved, and so it was nice when, in 1934, they received a letter from the Mossley Borough Council [Greater Manchester] congratulating them on the “splendid grounds,” remarking on the continuous show of bloom throughout the summer.  They ask for details of the lay-out, cost and upkeep, and hoped to do something similar themselves. 

Unfortunately, the site suffered some vandalism within a few weeks, and the Council wrote to the local police and to head teachers to enlist their help in preventing school children from committing such damage. In 1930 a gate was forcibly removed from its supports, and the railings which surround the fountain were broken.  The water receptacle at the fountain was full of paper and other litter. 

THE DEATH OF EARL HAIG 29 January 1929

Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, KTGCBOMGCVOKCIE was a senior officer in the British Army, and commanded the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front.  He was commander during the Battle of the Somme, the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendale), The German Spring Offensive, and the  final Hundred Days’ Offensive.  After retiring, he devoted the rest of his life to the welfare of ex-servicemen, and was instrumental in founding the British Legion in 1921 and also the Haig fund to provide financial assistance to ex-servicemen.  The day of his funeral was decreed a day of national mourning.  A large crowd assembled at the Clock Tower to attend a service in his honour.

Some miscellany from between the Wars:

1929: Cyclists’ Memorial Service

Organised by the South Yorkshire and North Derby centre of the National Cyclist’s Union, a largely attended memorial service took place last Sunday afternoon at the Stocksbridge War Memorial.  There were about 400 cyclists present from Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Wombwell cycling clubs in addition to the local branch.  A procession, headed by the Stocksbridge Brass Band, marched to the memorial where the service was conducted by the Rev. J. G. Roberts, vicar of Stocksbridge, who preached an inspiring sermon from the words “They shall come with their wheels swiftly, like a whirlwind.”  A beautiful wreath of blue irises and white carnations formed like a cycle wheel was laid on the memorial by Mr. H. Crooks, senior vice-president, and for 21 years, secretary of the Sheffield centre of the National Cyclists’ Union, and of the Endcliffe Cycling club.  One verse of the hymn “Abide with me” was afterwards sung by cyclists only.  Among those present were members of the Stocksbridge Urban District Council and the Stocksbridge St. John Ambulance Brigade.  The collections were in aid of sick and poor local residents.  Mr. S. A. Sharman made capable arrangements for the visit.

1930: the R101 Airship disaster, Sunday 5th October 1930

Flags were flown at half-mast at the Clock Tower, the Town Hall and the Church in memory of those who lost their lives in the R101 disaster.  A short memorial service was conducted at St. Matthias.  During the procession round the church the first few words of the Burial Service were said by the Vicar.  Special hymns and psalms were sung, also the National Anthem.  The “Dead March” in “Saul” was played at the conclusion of the service.  The church flag was flown at half-mast and the bells were muffled.

 

1936: the clock was stopped for a week to allow for an adjustment and overhaul.  It was regularly maintained by Mr. William Chaffey – it was said to have been his “pet”!  Mr. Chaffey was a member of the local volunteer fire brigade, a lamplighter (he was the foreman of the lighters) and the Council’s lighting inspector.

 

1937: lack of respect reported for the Memorial Gardens

An ex-soldier by the name of Harry Gall wrote to the local newspaper to complain about the disgusting state of the memorial steps and fountain, which he thought were not being respected; the grounds were full of litter, and had turned into a children’s playground.  Local youths also congregated after sunset.  The entrance was full of bicycles after dark and the seats were a place for noisy gangs of both sexes.  He bemoaned the indifference and lack of respect shown by the younger folk of the valley.  He hoped the vicar, Mr. Roberts, could have some influence, because people listened to him.  The Council resolved to ask the police if special constables might be asked to keep a look out.  In 1939 letters of apology were read out at a Council meeting from people about whom complaints had been made concerning their disorderly conduct in the clock tower gardens.

WORLD WAR TWO

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Clock Tower showing two panels commemorating the names of those who died 1939-1945 on either side of the original plaque commemorating those who died in the 1914-1918 War.  Photo credit: Sally Jowitt.

ROLL OF HONOUR WW2

Dick Atkinson, Leonard Barraclough, Leslie Benson, John W. Brannan, Fredrick W. Broad, Richard A. Button, Edward Challis, Leonard Charlesworth, Charles H. Cobbe, Herbert Davies, Frank Dawson, George A. England, Norman Firth, Kenneth Gregory, Tom Hanwell, Joseph W. M. Helliwell, Leslie W. Herbert, Walter Hingley, Lance W. Hoyle, Norman Jackson, Ernest Jones, Albert Kaye, Vincent Lavery, Ernest Lowe, Barrington H. Marshall, Wilfred Martin, Thomas H. Mate, Victor H. Mate, Percy Milnes, Michael Moran, Dorothy Musk, John E. Oates, Steven Osborne, Jack Revitt, Ernest Robinson, Aubrey Rodgers, Amos Roebuck, Joe Rogerson, Albert Rolfe, Harry Rowley, John A. Sellars, Alex. Shaw, Robert Shaw, Marjorie Smith, John R. Stagg, Mabel Turner, Walter Wadsworth, Frederick Wakelin, Kenneth Walker, Denis Walton, William B. Webb.

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Surnames 1939-1945 M-W.jpg

LATER YEARS - click on a photo to enlarge it 

Arthur Button

Private Arthur Button, Royal Army Medical Corps.

Arthur was born at Stocksbridge on the 8th September 1892.  He enlisted a month after war was declared, on the 28th August 1914, and very nearly made it to the end, being killed in August 1918, just three months before the end of the War.  He died at the age of 25 from wounds received in action in Italy on 22nd August 1918.  Arthur is buried at Cavalletto British Cemetery, Calvene, Provincia di Vincenza, Veneto, Italy.

 

Arthur’s name appears on the Roll of Honour on Stocksbridge Clock Tower War Memorial.  The surnames are in alphabetical order, but Arthur Button’s name appears at the bottom of plaque 1 (surnames Adams to Leather – he appears after Alec A. Leather).  I am told that for some reason Arthur's name was not on the original plaque, and his father fought to get it added.  The plaque had already been made, and at some point Arthur's name was added, at the end of the first plaque (surnames A-L).   His name does, however, appear in the correct alphabetical order in the Souvenir Programme and on the Commemorative Board, which were issued at the unveiling and dedication of the Clock Tower in 1923.  

 

Michael Parker, writing in his book Poppy People 2 (2009) says, “it’s somewhat puzzling to discover that whilst Arthur’s name is listed in the Roll of Honour that appears in the Clock Tower War Memorial dedication service programme, nevertheless his name does not appear on either the Clock Tower or Bolsterstone war memorials.”  In the epilogue to this book he notes that: “...there also remains the mystery of the missing surname regarding the Stocksbridge Clock Tower War Memorial list for World War One; whereby the first name of Arthur appears between the names of Alec Leather and Stanley V. Lester but the accompanying surname appears to have been cut out for some as yet unknown reason.”  [V. Lester is at the top of the next panel.]  Mr. Parker knows that the Christian name is Arthur, but does not make the connection with it being Arthur Button.  The name Button has now been added, though I do not know when this was done.  A close-up of the panel does make it look as if both names were added after the others, and it could be that the surname “fell out” of the panel at some point and was replaced.  

EDIT (November 2020): David Goodlad’s father has suggested a possible explanation for Arthur’s name being omitted.  Perhaps the person who made the plaque had been provided with the names Anthony Button and A. Button, and assumed A. Button was a duplicated name, so he only added Anthony Button to the plaque.  He added that Arthur’s father had to point out that it was a different person, and eventually Arthur’s name was inserted by adding a new piece of bronze.

Additional information on Arthur from his family (Lesley Armitage, Ginny Burgin and David Goodlad).

The following articles have been submitted to me by Grant Davies for inclusion on this page.  He’s happy to hear from anyone who has a connection: grantdav66@gmail.com

note - updated files added November 2022

JAMES DAVIES 1891-1917

PERCY V. WOODHEAD 1891-1917

SOURCES

Jack Branston, The History of Stocksbridge

Michael Parker, Poppy People (privately printed) 2002 and an updated and revised version The Poppy People of Bolsterstone, Deepcar and Stocksbridge Revisited: World War One (privately printed) 2009. 

Local newspapers: Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Sheffield Evening Telegraph, Sheffield Independent and the Penistone, Stocksbridge & Hoyland Express

Photographs from my collection

Documents from my family papers

 

A great deal of research into the names on the Clock Tower War Memorial has been done by Michael Parker.  He published two books, "Poppy People" (2002) and an updated and revised version "The Poppy People of Bolsterstone, Deepcar and Stocksbridge Revisited: World War One" (2009).  I believe Stocksbridge Library and Sheffield Local Studies Library have reference copies but it will be as well to check before visiting.  I am able to do look-ups on request.

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