The Project

The St James’ War Memorial Project:

The beginning

The project started as family history research. I was given a small tin containing a bible, 2 medals and 2 photographs and told the story of William Edwin Noll, a young man from Liverpool who worked at the Corn Exchange and joined the King’s Liverpool Regiment to fight in the First World War. He was killed in 1918 and his bible was returned to his mother. One of the photographs was of William, the other of a war memorial which bore his name and the names of 61 other ‘men of this parish’

I discovered that the memorial in the photograph was in St James’ Church, Toxteth, the church where William had been baptised (as had his nephew, my father-in-law, who gave me the photographs). I decided to find the memorial and take my father-in-law to pay his respects to his ‘Uncle Willie’ but found that the church had been closed for decades. The Hall of Remembrance at the Town Hall was another dead-end as William’s name wasn’t on it. We ended up going to France to see his name on the Arras Memorial.

I decided that Willie Noll should be commemorated in his home town and found out how to have his name added to the Hall of Remembrance, but that set me to wondering about the other names on the memorial. It turned out that half of them were missing from the Hall of Remembrance so I got together the evidence required to have their names added as well.

Expanding the project

Things changed when St James’ Church was reopened. I contacted the church in June 2011 to find out whether the memorial had survived and was told that it was stolen from the church during the decades it had been closed. It seemed a logical step to extend my project to the other names on the memorial.  I have managed to identify 60 of the 62 names on the memorial - and I'm still working on the other two!

Creating a local history resource

I accumulated a lot of information on these men and their families including census returns, baptism and marriage certificates, family stories and even photographs. I realised that I had created a local history resource so decided to share it. Considering my time and money restrictions, I decided to create a blog where I could easily upload my information for others to access and make it easy for them to contact me too. 

The Hall of Remembrance

It took me over a year to research the 30 names missing from the Hall of Remembrance and gather the information required to have them added. It was an amazingly rewarding experience; I connected with relatives of the men from the memorial (some from as far away as Australia!) as well as many people interested in local history.  Most of my research was done online but I also visited the archives, museums, cemeteries and war memorials around Liverpool.

On 6th September 2012 I attended a service at the Town Hall to have the 30 names (alongside 42 names others from other sources) added to the Hall of Remembrance. I was also interviewed for the local news.

The big surprise and expanding the project again

In July 2012 I was contacted by a local heritage group in Leicestershire who had seen my blog. They sent me a newsletter about a mystery piece of a war memorial that had been found in Barrow upon Soar. It was from the St James memorial! Lots of emails and phone calls later, the memorial piece was brought home to Liverpool.

So, now I had created a local history resource, had 30 names added to the Hall of Remembrance and recovered a piece of the missing memorial. It couldn’t end there; in August 2012 I was given the go-ahead to apply for a grant from the War Memorials Trust to have the memorial restored/recreated to be put back into the church.... watch this space!

No comments: