Saturday, October 20, 2012
THE NEXT STEP...
During the Great War many families from the congregation of St James, Toxteth, lost loved ones. In 1920 they erected a memorial to those men who had made the ultimate sacrifice. A wooden reredos was decided upon, with a name panel and inscription dedicated to the memory of 62 men.
The memorial was paid for by donations from the congregation and was placed prominently in the church. It was still there in 1972 when the church was closed and in 1976 when the building was placed in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. Unfortunately the church was to remain empty for almost 4 decades and during this time it became a target for vandals and thieves. In 1992 one of the things to be taken was the wooden reredos and name panel.
For a long time the memorial was forgotten, there was no record of it in the national inventory of war memorials and no photographs of it in any collections. Then a photograph surfaced in a family album and The St James Memorial Project was born. The aims of the project were to ensure that the names on the memorial weren’t forgotten and to create some sort of replacement for the missing reredos.
The stories behind the 62 names have been researched and the information put on this blog, other actions taken to help ensure these names aren’t forgotten include
· 30 names from the memorial were added to the Hall of Remembrance at the Town Hall on 6th Sept 2012
· Work is also ongoing to establish whether one of the men should have a Commonwealth War Graves Commission commemoration
· Several families of the men have been contacted and given the information about the memorial and their relatives.
In the summer of
2012 a twist was added to this story, a piece of the memorial surfaced 100 miles away in a small village in Leicestershire. Nobody knows how it got there but thanks to the St James War Memorial Project information being available on the internet, it was identified and the Barrow-upon-Soar HeritageGroup who were looking after it were delighted to return it to Liverpool.
The aims of the project are now focused on having the memorial restored and involving the families of the men commemorated on it. It is still a mystery as to how the memorial travelled from
Liverpool to Leicestershire and it must have
changed hands so many times along the way that we will probably never know. The
exciting thought is that the rest of it could be out there somewhere – maybe
somebody doesn’t realise what they have tucked away in their loft or garden
We would of course love to find more of the original memorial but if that doesn’t happen we will be raising funds to have the memorial recreated as a replica of the original, incorporating the original piece. It will then be returned to the church it came from, which is very fitting as the church itself has returned to use and is undergoing extensive restoration to bring it back to its former glory. When the work on the Grade II* listed church is complete there will be a rededication ceremony for the memorial and we would love to invite the families of those men to attend.
If anyone thinks that they may be related to these brave men they can visit the blog to look for more information and to contact the project. We would love to have family stories and photographs to add to the local history resource. We will also be holding an 'open day' at St James' Church once the roof is finished and there will be information about the memorial and the men available at that event. The more we can talk about their lives and share their stories the better we have fulfilled the wish expressed on the memorial: Let those that come after see to it that their names be not forgotten.