Trowbridge War Memorial

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Reference WMO/159507


Trowbridge Park

Park Road


BA14 8HA


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War Memorials Trust case: War Memorials Trust needs to avoid Contributors changing location/description details as we help to protect and conserve this war memorial through our casework. You can still add photographs, update condition and use the tabs below. If you believe any of the information you cannot edit is wrong or information is missing, please make a note of the reference number and include it in your email when you contact us.

Status: On original site
Type: Freestanding
Location: External
Setting: Within a garden/park/churchyard/enclosure/Marketplace
Description: Figure sculpture
  • Metal Bronze
  • Other Concrete
  • Stone Portland stone
Lettering: Raised
  • First World War (1914-1918)
About the memorial: The Trowbridge War Memorial “For beauty of design, appropriateness and excellence of execution, it is a memorial which will bear comparison with any in the whole country!” Like so many towns, cities and villages across Britain, the First World War hit Trowbridge hard. Many young men from the woollen cloth mill town had joined up to fight in Flanders, the Dardanelles, Mesopotamia, Palestine and at the Battle of Jutland and never to return. Those who had died spanned the town’s social spectrum. The Palmer family, owners of the Palmer & Mackay Mill, lost their son, Major Allen Palmer, as did many of their mill employees. Fifteen former workers from Ushers Brewery were also killed. The major figure in the town during the First World War period was the Rev Harry Saunders, known as the War Mayor and it is he who was the initial driving force behind creating a town memorial to commemorate the 376 Trowbridge men killed in the conflict. The inaugural meeting to consider projects to commemorate the Trowbridge fallen was called by the Rev Saunders on the 28th April 1919 and was attended by a very large, representative group. Four schemes were proposed, a public baths, a free library, an extension to the Cottage Hospital or a memorial. A further meeting was held on the 4th October 1920 when it was agreed that a war memorial would be built to the design of Mr W H Stanley A.M.I.C.E., a local architect and resident for many years, who had taken a keen interest in the project. The scheme was also to include a “Memorial Avenue” of Cornish elms, which were planted and in leaf by the time the actual war memorial was unveiled. This Avenue stretched from the memorial directly to the river. The main access point to the Memorial was through the main entrance to the Park. The total cost of the memorial was to be £1500, which in terms of today’s money equates to £40,000. Of the £1500, £600 came from Walter Jenkins, who previously had given the land to extend the Town Park down to the river, £250 from Ushers Brewery and £100 from George Haden and Co. The site had to be cleared of an old leaning walnut tree, which had been a landmark for generations, and also the tank which had been presented to the town in recognition of its fund raising efforts was relocated to the lower part of the Park. The site had to be levelled and excavated in order to lay down 50 tons of concrete upon which the monument would stand. A local firm of builders, R Linzey and Sons carried out the work directed by Mr E G Griffin. There was not one perpendicular joint in the monument, the stones having all been cut to size, the largest weighing five tons. The memorial was to be topped by a bronze statue of a British soldier dressed in a 1918 uniform and kit. The weight of the bronze figure, from the model sculpted by Percy George Bentham was cast by J W Singer of Frome. Percy Bentham was an Associate Member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors (ARBS). He was born in London in 1883 and had studied at the City and Guilds London School of Art, under the noted teacher of sculpture, W S Frith and later at the Royal Academy schools where he was a silver medallist. As with many of the young sculptors of his generation, he then made his way to France and studied in Paris during the Belle Époque period. In England he later worked in the studio of Alfred Drury who was a key artist in the Pre-Raphaelite New Sculpture movement, which focused on naturalistic representation in sculpture, and also in the studio of W.R. Colton, an exceptional sculptor, famous for his individuality. New Sculpture emphasised an anatomically accurate representation of the human body, and celebrated energy and vitality. This can be seen in the detailed rendering of the uniform and figure of Trowbridge’s War memorial. Once established as a sculptor in his own right, Bentham set up his own studio at 8a Gunter Grove, Chelsea, SW10. His early work included The Angler (1916) and The Bubble-blower (1917). In the immediate post war period came his sculptural model entitled Soldier, which was the basis for the Trowbridge Memorial statue Bentham’s work also include portrait busts and other statues, including, two colossal lions in bronze for Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada, the models for the sculptural decorations in the British Government Buildings, in Antwerp in Belgium, the colossal figure of Navigation on the P & O Offices, London and statues at the Harbour Board Offices in Liverpool. Perhaps his final piece of work was five pieces of sculpture on the Royal Pavilion, Ascot, representing the Native Races of the British Empire in 1935 J W Singer of Frome was not chosen to cast the life size bronze sculpture because they were famous nationally for their expertise in casting major and significant statues. The company was established in 1848 in Frome by John Webb Singer, a skilled silversmith, who opened the Frome Art Metal Works, primarily to meet the need for ecclesiastical metalwork, such as lecterns. It became known for its expertise in casting larger objects and during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century had cast many historically important monuments including Lions and Fountains in Trafalgar Square (1867), Boudicca and her chariot on the Embankment (1902), the Figure of Justice atop the Old Bailey (1906), Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (1911) in London, as well as bronze figures such as that of Oliver Cromwell outside Parliament (1899). During the First World War the firm was requisitioned by the Government to make munitions. And women were employed for the first time. Working from the sculptor's model, Singers’ pattern makers made a full-size model or pattern of the final sculpture. This would usually be made in wood. The foundry workers then placed the bottom half of this pattern into a mould frame, they filled the remainder of the frame with moulding sand which they then packed down. They did the same with the top half of the pattern, finally placing another frame on top, filling it with sand and then compressing it. The mould would then be baked dry, because if molten metal was poured into wet sand, it would explode. The pattern was then removed. When the molten metal had been poured into the mould and had cooled and hardened, the mould was taken apart, revealing the bronze cast of the statue. Other elements of the war memorial were sent to more distant specialists. The bronze tablets, bearing the names of the fallen, were cast by Goslin and Sons of Bishopsgate, London. The carving was carried out by Mr E Read of Exeter. The Unveiling The unveiling ceremony took place at 3pm on the 13 August 1921. It was carried out by Field Marshal Paul S. Methuen, the former commanding officer of the 1st Army Corps in South Africa and recently the Governor of Malta. He was dressed in full dress uniform. He first inspected the guard of honour from the Wiltshire Yeomanry and 4th Wiltshire Territorials at the Silver Street entrance to the Park. There was then a procession led by Lord Methuen of local dignitaries, clergymen and the War Memorial Committee, under its chairman, Herbert Garlick. All assembled at the foot of the memorial. Scouts, Guides and the Fire Brigade were also assembled. The ceremony opened with the hymn, “O God our help in ages past”. Mr T C Usher, Chairman of the Trowbridge Urban District Council, welcomed everyone. He said that the soldier in bronze in full kit was an infantryman like most of the Wiltshire lads had been. The extension to the Park and the avenue of elms were also part of the War memorial. Mr Garlick then asked Lord Methuen to unveil the memorial, releasing the double Union flag which veiled the monument. After the sounding of the Last Post and the Reveille by buglers of the Wiltshire Regiment, a large laurel wreath, inscribed “The Town’s tribute to her fallen” was laid at the foot of the memorial by Mrs Butcher who had lost her sons, Harold and Frederick in the War. H Ledbury, secretary of the War Memorial Committee, said “Representing the Committee, I give this memorial into your keeping as Chairman of the Urban Council; and request you to take charge of it on behalf of the town that it may be preserved in sacred and grateful remembrance of our fallen townsmen.” The War Memorial still remains the focal point for each Remembrance Day and looks set to remain so for many years to come.
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To our glorious dead 1914-1918 1939-1945

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Grade II (England)


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