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On original site
- Metal Bronze
- Stone Granite
- First World War (1914-1918)
- Post-1945 War or Conflict
About the memorial:
Sited at junction of Church Street and Yorkshire Street
A large granite plinth topped by a bronze group statue of soldiers designed by Albert Toft.
The memorial was dedicated in April 1923 and originally had two sets of bronze doors. In the 1950s one of these was removed and a mechanised roll of honour book placed in the front face on the memorial.
There are also associated bronze plaques attached to the wall of the church immediately behind the memorial.
Historic England entry in full - The memorial stands on a raised stone-paved area above the High Street to the south of the Church of St Mary and St Peter (rebuilt 1827-30, listed Grade II*), which stands at the town’s highest point. The memorial, the churchyard entrance and the church’s south porch are aligned on the same axis.
The freestanding memorial consists of a large rectangular granite pedestal on a shallow stepped base. The pedestal resembles a mausoleum and contains a chamber accessed by a pair of bronze coffered doors on the north side, decorated with wreaths and cartouches. A matching set of doors on the south side was replaced in 1955 by a window displaying a mechanised Roll of Honour recording the names of those local servicemen who died in the Second World War. The south side of the pedestal is inscribed DEATH IS THE GATE OF LIFE/ 1914 – 1918 and the north TO GOD BE THE PRAISE.
The pedestal is surmounted by a massive bronze sculpture of a trench scene of five infantrymen, bayonets fixed, in the process of going ‘over the top’. The activity is represented in the round: two soldiers move along the trench, two ascend the sides and the fifth stands atop the parapet. The composition is one of great dynamism, with battle dress, weaponry and equipment, through to the sandbags and timber revetments of the trench, including artillery shells on the trench floor, depicted in great detail.
The forecourt is enclosed on the south and west sides by sandstone ashlar walls, incorporating a flight of steps from the High Street pavement at the south, and a shorter flight on the west side. The walls carry a cast-iron balustrade with a Greek-key pattern frieze. The adjoining stone walls to the west, enclosing a small rectangular memorial garden, were added in the later-C20. To the west of the parish church, the churchyard boundary comprises C19 railings that are included in the listing.
The churchyard wall to the rear of the freestanding monument is built in sandstone ashlar with an off-centre gateway and a crenellated parapet, forming a segmental inward curve at the south-west angle of the churchyard. The C19 terminal piers, which were retained from the previous wall, have narrow relief panels carved with scrolls and foliate decoration and shallow pyramidal caps, similarly carved. The tall gate piers have cruciform upper sections inset with small decorative piers, low-relief crosses on the front face, and tall moulded caps. The cast-iron globe lamps are later C20 replacements. The cast-iron gates have scrolled and foliate decoration. The two flights of stone steps and flanking walls form part of the composition.
The upper section of the walls provides the frame for a series of continuous bronze panels, two to the left of the gate and five to the right, with the names of the fallen in relief lettering and shields above the joints. The shields depict the Royal Arms, the arms of the Duchy of Lancaster and the County Borough of Oldham, the RAF badge and the White Ensign. The frieze running across the top of the panels reads THESE TABLETS WERE ERECTED/ BY THE CITIZENS OF OLDHAM/ AS A LASTING MEMORIAL/ TO THEIR FELLOW TOWNSMEN/ WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES/ IN THE GREAT WAR/ ANNO DOMINI 1914 – 1918. The wall’s lower section has a series of bronze panels with the names of those who died in the Second World War.
While the ensemble is listed as an entity, it is the war memorial components which possess the more than special interest.
A VC Dedicatory 'Blue Plaque' is located on a building adjacent to the memorial grounds.