Ashley Road


Ashley Road War Memorial, Remembrance Ceremony 12 November 2006
Ashley Road War Memorial, Remembrance Ceremony 12 November 2006
Image courtesy of Clive Gilbert © 2006

Click on a name Adams, G Alderton, A Aldridge, WG Anderson, RW Arthur, Frank Arthur, Fred Atkins,F Bailey, FJ Bailey, T Bailey, WH Ballinger, C Barnard, J Barnett, WJ Beams, AH Bell, W Bennett, AE Blackman, AE Bone PW Botting, EE Bowles, RJA Breeden, GOJ Broughton, AW Brown, AL Buckle, AS Budd, E Burchell, T Burfitt, TH Butcher, JPH Butland, R Chadband, JS Chalwin, A Chambers, JH Chandler, DM Chittenden, AG Choney, AW Choney, WG Clapham, CA Clifford, W Coleman, A Coleman, EJ Coller, TG Collins, R Colliss, RE Coombes, HF Cook, E Cook, L Cooke, PJ Cooke, WH Coulson, WE Cox, CR Cox, FE Cropley, TR Culver, A Cumming, HA
Click on a name Daniel, WG Donhue, JK Doran, J Down, F Downie, GH Doubleday, PJ Duke, FS Dulake, H Dunn, WW Einchcomb, GW Elderton, FR Eley, SG Elliott, WH England, WG English, FP Farley, GA Foulger, AG Foulger, HR Foulger, WA Friday, E Friday, LJ Gabriel, SA Galyer, J Gardiner, WN Gaskell, DLS Gobey, F Goble, AE Gorey, F Gorey, H Grellier, GH Grundtvig, HH Hairs, MST Hambly, B Harknett, Alfred Stanley Harknett, Arthur Sidney Harper, A Harris, E Harris, WS Hart, FE Harvey, C Heffern, W Hepworth, PW Hewitt, RD Hill, SL Hoare, RA Hoare, WS HOCKLY, NA Hunter, WE Hyde, G Jackson, AJ Jackson, F Jeal, JW Jenkins, GA Jenkins, JR
Click on a name Jibb, AH Johnson, BK Johnson, ER Johnson, JW Jolliffe, TD Jones, AFP Joseph, SH Kirkaldy, D Kitcherside, E Knight, SH Knights, JP Lacey, W Lambert, FC Lancaster, EH Lander, AC Coppard, WT Lawrence, N Ledger, RJ Lee, EW Lilley, Charles F Lilley, CF Livingstone, H Longhurst, CF Lowes, WA Luxford, AE Mack, WH Mann, AG Mann, JF Marshall, HC Marson, J Martin, HLA Haskell, A Pink, J Maskell, AE Mason, PS Massey, A Matthews, William J Matthews, WJ Mauvan, WE Maynard, WJ Meredith, ED Middleton, A Midgley, J Miles, A Miles, JR Moorcroft, FJ Morley, CJ Morley, P Regan, T
Click on a name Moth, ES Nash, GS Nathan, J Neves, WH Nevill, E Nicholson, CW Norrington, R Northey, W Nuttman, GW Ockenden, A Page, LA Pain, H Palmer, JE Palmer, T Paskell, W Payne, EV Pearce, AW Penfold, B Penfold, G Perkins, F Peters, W Piper, CAM Plowman, FJ Plume, F Plumridge, WJ Portt, GS Prattenton, B Price, F Primrose, NJA Prior, WJ Proctor, WJ Pullinger, WG Pye, W Randall, AF Randall, SW Rasey, AE Rasey, B Rasey, F Ratcliff, LH Ratcliffe, HF Robinson, H Rodda, J Rounce, ER Rowland, F Russell, W Rutley, HT Sargent, AH Sayer, HG Savory, S Scott, WP Sharpe, NR Sheppard, IT Sheppard, T Shrubb, OJ
Click on a name Simmonds, AM Simons, J Skilton, AW Smith, A Smith, JA Smith, LC Smith, LH Smith, PR Smith, SD Smithers, WJ Spence, CG Spikesman, T Stedman, S Stevens, G Stevenson, AG Steward, AA Stone, HD Stredwick, EH Sturgess, G SturtR, P Taylor, AT Taylor, O Terry, A Tichener, HO Toms, JE Toseland, FA Tracey, J Treadgold, AJ Treays, J Turner, HD Turner, HW Tye, WG VincentWM Ward, CE Walker, JH Walliker, A Walton, P Watkins, AK Watts, P Weall, EJ Weaver, AF Webb, R Wells, WA Wheeler, EJ Wheeler, WL Whelan, SE White, A White, C Whiting, C Whittington, H Wickens, JS Winslett, ECW Wyeth, AF Zander, AC

Caution some names are out of order on the monument.
To read more about an individual please click on their name. Also please note that ALL the names are from Great War. This is despite the fact that the words 'And the world war 1939-1945' appear on the base of the memorial cross. Names of victims of the 1939 - 1945 conflict are kept in a special book of remembrance at the Town Hall, Epsom. They can also be read by clicking this link www.epsomandewellhistoryexplorer.org.uk/WW2Book.html
Photograph courtesy of Clive Gilbert 2007

EPSOM'S ASHLEY ROAD WAR MEMORIAL

This is a long article which we have broken down into the following chapters. (Click on a name to jump to the relevant chapter)
[Content]

Introduction
Public meeting Friday 7 February 1919
War memorial committee meeting 17 March 1919
Demolition of clock tower proposed
Public meeting Friday 16 May 1919 to consider the committee's war memorial recommendation
Epsom's memorial cross to be erected in High Street
Epsom's war memorial belated but not forgotten
Sir Aston Webb's regret and suggestion
Delay and committee resignation
Epsom cemetery emerges as the site for Epsom's war memorial
Celtic cross, 18 feet high of grey granite
Names of the fallen
Unveiling ceremony Sunday 11 November 1923
Conclusion


Introduction

Epsom Town's War Memorial bears the names of 264 men and 1 woman who lost their lives having served their country during the Great War. It stands at the junction of Treadwell Road and Ashley Road, at the northern end of Epsom Cemetery. Its creation was not without difficulty, agreement to the form it should take and its position were the centre of much argument and disagreement. Many communities had started to erect war memorials or shrines from early 1916, as did Ewell, but Epsom appears to have not done so. However, soon after the Armistice the Epsom Advertiser dated 22 November 1918 reports the Council Chairman as saying;

"that it would be a nice thing if Epsom could have a war memorial. He had always felt that the absence of a covered swimming bath was a serious matter. Every child should be taught to swim. Epsom had an open-air bath but needed a bath where swimmers could practice all year round. This district was well served in the matter of parks and recreation grounds, but what about a free library and reading room?"

This was probably the opening shot in what was to prove to be a long and acrimonious battle over what form the war memorial should take. On 28 January 1919 the Epsom Urban District Council resolved to call a public meeting to decide on the form of a suitable war memorial for Epsom, and appoint a war memorial committee.

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Advert in Epsom and Ewell Advertiser

Public meeting Friday 7 February 1919

The meeting was very poorly attended, only 50 people in attendance when it started, and about 100 by the time it ended. Mr Gow said he was struck by the apathy of the people of Epsom over such a matter as a war memorial. So poorly attended was the meeting that a Mr Squarey proposed that it be adjourned, but the proposal was lost.

The Chairman, Mr H. B. Longley, JP, suggested a committee be formed to consider all proposals and report back. He also thought that the townspeople generally ought to decide on the form the memorial should take, not just the Council. This was not something to be rushed "because the ultimate decision would have a lasting effect upon the town."

Mr Wilson had obtained some figures, but admitted it was difficult to get accurate statistics. However, he estimated "that about 2,500 men had joined up from the district, of whom about 100 had fallen." (Editors note: 265 names appear on the Ashley Road memorial). Statues, he felt, were very pretty but served no great practical purpose, and something more useful to benefit the whole of the town and to future generations, would be much better.

The Vicar of Christ Church had written, regretting that he could not attend the meeting. However, he "hoped that the form decided upon would be a truly worthy tribute to the glorious memory of those Epsom men who had laid down their lives for King and Country in the cause of right and justice."

Lady Bucknill had sent a letter hoping that no statues would be erected, but that a cross in some suitable spot be erected, "which would cry aloud to all passers by."

The Vicar of Epsom opposed the idea of a utility memorial, favouring a memorial in connection with the men's faith, suggesting that funding be split between a central non-utility memorial, and the organisation or particular body to which they belonged.

Mr Garrett wanted to acquire Waterloo House to save it from being demolished and replaced with some "modern rubbish." It would have a reading room, a garden outside, and "a label could be affixed so that the people could keep the memorial in mind." (Waterloo House is now the Wetherspoons Public House 'The Assembly Rooms').

Mr Absalon wanted a 'public hall', possibly carried out in connection with Mr Garrett's suggestion. Or possibly a memorial hall erected at the back of Bromley Hurst. "a public hall erected now could be used for the provision of a library and reading rooms and other things of that kind."

Mr Wootton wanted to know how much money might be raised, as a public hall could not be provided for less than £10,000.

Mr Mills wanted something to beautify Epsom. An artistic memorial in the High Street "surrounded by some sort of island garden."

Dr Daniels wanted to "help humanity in general, and they could do that by helping the Cottage Hospital. At the present time it is quite full and more accommodation was badly needed. By extending the work of the hospital they could help sick people and commemorate the fact that it is connected with the great war by putting up a suitable tablet. The Vicar's suggestion was alright in spirit, but unfortunately they were not all church people, whereas his proposal was one to which all could subscribe irrespective of their religious views."

Mr Smith suggested "that the work of the hospital could be extended by opening up an out-patients department, where many discharged soldiers and sailors with wounds slow to heal could get relief."

It was decided to proceed with the election of a committee to consider and report upon the various proposals put forward.

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War memorial committee meeting 17 March 1919

The committee was comprised of a Chairman and 31 members, 28 of whom attended this meeting, three sending apologies. The object of the meeting was to consider the schemes put forward at the town's meeting as well as other suggestions put forward since. Then to recommend one scheme to be submitted to a future meeting of the townspeople. The following proposals were considered:

  1. Extension of the Parish Church
  2. Conversion of Waterloo House into a public library and rendezvous for discharged soldiers
  3. A town hall with baths and library at the rear of the Council Offices
  4. A garden fountain in High Street
  5. The endowment of the Cottage Hospital
  6. An obelisk on the Downs
  7. A Queen Eleanor's cross in Rosebery Park
  8. A monument in the cemetery
  9. Scholarships for children
Mr Gow thought they should try to raise £20,000, which seemed a huge sum, but assuming the population of Epsom to be 10,000, that was only £2 a head. He was not in favour of any monument, the beauty of which would only last a short while, but he supported the erection of a building to be used as a library and reading room, with an adjacent room for meetings.

Mr S. Smith, the working man's representative, expressed the view that "the amount subscribed would depend to a very large extent upon the form of the memorial. The workers preferred a building as spoken of by Mr Gow. There were 2,000 trade unionists in Epsom, and if an obelisk or cross was to be erected he did not think they would subscribe much money towards either." Personally, Mr Smith continued, he "would like to see the provision of a hospital. A place where treatment would be a great boon to the poor people as well as to ex-soldiers."

The meeting agreed to eliminate the erection of any building behind the Council Offices, a garden fountain in High Street and a drinking fountain in Rosebery Park. The remaining suggestions were referred to an 11 person sub-committee, to choose one to be recommended to the Town's meeting.

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Demolition of clock tower proposed

From the Epsom Advertiser dated 4 April 1919.
It is now understood that the sub-committee will make a recommendation that the clock tower in High Street be demolished and a war memorial cross be erected in its place, subject to the consent of the Council. Also that any surplus be utilised for the establishment of scholarships for soldier' sons.

In the Advertiser the following week, 11 April 1919 it was reported that the townspeople had unfavourably received the proposal to demolish the clock tower, and that the sub-committee had entirely misunderstood their wishes by entertaining such a proposal. It also reported that the design of an Epsom lady of a dignified monument is gaining support every day, but that the sub-committee said it would be far too expensive. Earlier in the week the sub-committee met to consider the utility scheme, but there was such difference of opinion that no decision could be arrived at.

The 18 April 1919 edition of the Advertiser reported that members of the sub-committee had received anonymous letters, and that one writer had suggested that the committee next meet in the padded room at Horton Asylum.

The sub-committee report rejected the construction of utilitarian buildings on the grounds that the Council was already empowered to create such buildings. In a similar vein the Cottage Hospital suggestion was dropped because the Government was about to take control of hospital building.

Mr Wootton explaining the reasoning behind the decision to demolish the clock tower said that it was found that it was not built in commemoration of any event, or for any special object, and it certainly seemed that one must be born in Epsom to appreciate its beauty. He then went on to criticise Mrs Scott-Tebb's statue design of a British soldier succouring a Belgian child, symbolising England protecting the weak. The symbolism was too narrow, and not accurate in detail.

Lieutenant Chamberlain expressed the view that the committee was not sufficiently representative of the working classes. However, it was pointed out that it was appointed at the town's meeting, and that in making a recommendation, the sub-committee's labours were now finished.

Demolition of the clock tower was firmly rejected, and a proposal to erect a cross or some other form of memorial in Rosebery Park was carried.

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Advert in Epsom and Ewell Advertiser

Public meeting Friday 16 May 1919 to consider the committee's war memorial recommendation

After the Chairman (Mr H. B. Longley) had made complimentary remarks about the high number of people attending the meeting he then announced the committee's recommendation:-
  1. That a cross or some other form of monument to the fallen be erected subject to the approval of the Urban Council in Rosebery Park and
  2. That the balance of the fund be devoted to the formation of endowments of apprenticeships and scholarships in the first instance for the children of men who served in the present war, and later for children of resident men who have been or were still in the forces.
Ex-servicemen, mostly belonging to the National Federation, expressed their indignation at the rejection of their motion for a club and free library, by noisily walking out of the hall, one of them shouting "Get a move on, Epsom".

The Chairman then read a letter to the meeting that he had just received from Lord Rosebery, the former Prime Minister and donor of Rosebery Park to the town.

Lord Rosebery lamented the fact that no mention was made of recording the names of the fallen, which he deemed as a first necessity. He further objected to a Runic cross being erected in Rosebery Park as it might give the impression that the park was a cemetery. Secondly, if one monument be erected it would be followed by others, which would in no way further the purpose of the park, which is for the enjoyment and recreation of the people of Epsom. Lord Rosebery agreed with the suggestion that an Eleanor's cross erected in the broadest part of the High Street with tablets bearing the names of the dead. It would not give a gloomy aspect to the High Street and would be an abiding monument. He also commented that surplus money should be subject to further investigation, but noted that one must first get the surplus before employing it.

Mr Tait commented that he knew of the conflict of opinion in Epsom. Some wanted a memorial for the dead, others wanted a memorial for the living, and there were those who wanted both.

Mrs Scott-Tebb said Epsom should have a distinctive memorial as it was a unique town in the war. It had housed the Public Schools Brigade, big military camps and the largest war hospital. "A monument such as she had designed would attract visitors who came to the town, and it reminded them that they did not fight for gain but for the protection of the weak."

Mr A. W. Aston welcomed the differences of opinion, because out of the many they might get the right thing. He remarked that "Clergymen wanted a church, doctors desired a hospital, architects would like a building, and the racing fraternity would not be above asking for racing stables up-to-date." (Laughter.)

The remark of Mr Harris that the cross was a symbol of the supreme sacrifice aroused a lady in the audience, who said that many men who fell were either atheists or Jews to whom a cross would not appeal, and in a racing town like Epsom they would have bookies making their bets round it.

A working man at the back of the hall exclaimed "It is hurtful to us fathers and mothers who have lost sons to see how this meeting is going. What we want is a cross to be placed in the cemetery, where it will be respected."

Finally by a large majority the meeting adopted the committee's recommendation as amended that a cross be erected in a suitable position other than Rosebery Park, and that the balance of the fund be devoted to endowments of apprenticeships and scholarships for children of men who have served in the war.

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Epsom's memorial cross to be erected in High Street

The memorial committee met on Monday 26 May 1919, to consider the three proposed sites, the north end of High Street, the cemetery and Woodcote Green.

From letters received by the Chairman the cemetery was the position favoured by relatives of the fallen. The Discharged Soldiers' Federation was of a similar view.

Woodcote Green was beautiful but its position was not central enough.

There might be a problem with the High Street in that the Council had rented the Lord of the Manor's market rights. Also the High Street might be too noisy. However, despite these objections the High Street was chosen. The cross was to be simple with names inscribed on base panels.

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Epsom's war memorial belated but not forgotten

By October 1919, owing to differences of opinion and the complete absence of unanimity among the people of Epsom no decision had been made as to the form the memorial should take.

At the meeting of the Urban Council on 7 October 1919 Councillor Chuter Ede asked if anyone knew what had happened about the memorial as he had been asked by many people. He suggested a meeting be held with the object of agreeing upon a scheme. The Chairman (Councillor H.B. Longley), also Chairman of the war memorial committee gave an assurance that the matter, which was a particular nightmare of his, had not been forgotten, and suggested the committee be called together in about a fortnight's time.

The meeting was held on 3 November 1919, and various sites were discussed including the junction of High Street and East Street. The position chosen was between the clock tower and Albion Terrace. The Vicar (the Rev. W. Bainbridge-Bell had seen a cross he favoured very much whilst cycling through the Cambridgeshire village of Streatham. If the Vicar's suggested cross was decided upon it would need a base on which names could be inscribed (now estimated at 150), and in the niches at the top it was thought there should be the four Patron Saints of Great Britain and Ireland.

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Sir Aston Webb's regret and suggestion

In December 1919 Mr Squarey reported to the committee that he had written to Sir Aston Webb to ask him to design and cost a replica of the Streatham cross. Sir Aston had replied that he thought the Streatham cross was very good and appropriate, and that he would have been pleased to accept, but he was so filled up with work that he felt he could not accept. He suggested that with so definite a monument to go by, the work might be entrusted to a local man. It was decided to approach Mr W. J. Parker, of Marlborough, a former Epsom resident.

Mr Parker duly submitted his designs to the committee on Monday 19 January 1920. The cross was to be 27 feet 6 inches high, octagonal and resting on a large square base, with a platform where people reading the names of the men would be out of the danger of passing traffic. The estimated cost was between £1,000 and £1,560 depending on the kind of stone used. A plan of the proposed memorial was submitted to the Council on 27 January 1920 with a view to obtaining the Council's approval. The plan was referred to the Surveyor Mr E. R. Capon.

When the committee next met on Monday 23 February 1920 the site for the memorial had still not been settled. The architect suggested "the memorial should be erected immediately to the east of the island on which the present arc lamp is fixed. The lamp would have to be taken down and re-fixed on the pavement in front of Messrs. Cropley's premises." He thought this position would not interfere with traffic, but he presumed that the Highways Committee would have to be asked for their consent. Councillor Moore spoke of the traffic danger, and that the Council Surveyor and an Urban Councillor had had narrow escapes through cars coming out of a neighbouring garage. Any other obstruction in the road would be more dangerous still. The committee were prepared to accept the architect's suggested site but the Council must first give consent.

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Delay and committee resignation

After months of delay, on Tuesday 6 July 1920 the Council met and decided to refuse consent for the memorial to be erected in the High Street. The reason given was that the Council "--- had the highest possible respect and admiration for those townsmen who gave their lives in the conflict that had ended, and they felt that these sacrifices were a reminder for all time of the greatest achievement of which the human soul was capable. Because of this they felt it impossible to consent to any stone memorial being erected in a busy thoroughfare like the High Street."

The Council refusal caused the memorial committee to resign en bloc.

Councillor Moore wrote; "I have recently had an opportunity of seeing how widespread is the idea of erecting some kind of memorial to those who have fallen in the smallest villages, and it will be a lasting disgrace if Epsom does not have something of the kind, but I feel that apathy and carping criticism have rendered the work of the committee null and void."

Mr Wootton wrote; "I deeply regret that a memorial in Epsom to those who gave their lives for their country in the war should have been made the centre of continuous dispute, bickering and opposition from the outset, and I have come to the conclusion that I will give what I intended for the general memorial to the Christ Church memorial, as this will stand as a true memorial to the dead, whereas I feel that a general memorial, if ever erected, will serve to remind us of the dissentions of the living rather than the greatness of those who died in the cause they undertook."

Mr Garrett said "If Epsom had no memorial the town would bitterly regret it in years to come."

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Epsom cemetery emerges as the site for Epsom's war memorial

In an open letter published in the 30 July 1920 Advertiser, to Mr Longley, Chairman of the late memorial committee, Mrs Mary Tebb suggests that Epsom cemetery should be the site for the memorial. She quotes a letter from many bereaved parents expressing a desire to have a "SACRED PLACE OF REMEMBRANCE IN OUR EPSOM CEMETERY." She offers to start the subscription list with £25.

By the end of September 1920 about 100 residents sent a petition to the Council asking that a town's meeting be called to revive subject of erecting suitable memorial. The Council replied that after the experience of the previous two town's meetings it felt that it should not officially take a lead, but in the event of a suitable memorial being subscribed for in the town a space will be reserved in the cemetery for its erection.

The Council meeting held on 26 October 1920 approved a plan to site the memorial at the corner of Ashley Road and Treadwell Road, and called on the borough Surveyor to submit a plan giving exact dimensions for consideration. At the 30 November meeting the Surveyor was directed to approve the plan of the proposed war memorial to be placed in the cemetery.

Then at the meeting held on 18 January 1921 the Council gave permission for a small board to be erected on the site of the proposed memorial inviting subscriptions.

By 13 September 1921 the Surveyor reported that the improvement of the corner at Ashley Road and Treadwell Road was in hand. The Council was asked to lay the foundations for the cross and lay the crazy pattern path thereto. The Council regretted that they were unable to comply with this request.

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Celtic cross, 18 feet high of grey granite

I can find nothing in 1921 editions of the Advertiser about the memorial until the 16 December edition where there is a report on the unveiling on Sunday afternoon 11 December 1921, some weeks after the anniversary of the armistice. A brief description follows.

The 18 feet high granite cross rests on a three tier base. The top tier was inscribed "To the Glory of God And", the second tier "To the lasting honour of the men of Epsom who gave their lives in the Great War, 1914-1918", and the bottom tier "Their reward also is with the Lord and the care of them is with the most high." The second tier was subsequently amended to include 1939-1945, and Ewell.

Around the cross and for a considerable distance down Ashley Road a great gathering of townspeople assembled on Sunday afternoon to witness the unveiling ceremony. After a service of dedication, Mr John Tryton, representing the memorial committee, asked two ex-servicemen, Chief Petty Officer Arthur Whittington and Company Sergeant Major William John George Dumbrill to unveil the cross, which was draped with a Union Jack. As the Union Jack fell away the 'Last Post' was sounded by buglers, after which the crowd remained silent for two minutes. Prayers were said by the Rev Bainbridge Bell, and the hymn "For All the Saints Who From Their Labours Rest" was sung.

Thousands had subscribed to the memorial, and towards the end of the ceremony Mr Tryon turning to Councillor Chuter Ede said "It is my duty and pleasure now to declare this memorial the gift of the subscribers to the town for ever, and to ask you and your colleagues and successors to maintain and keep it and treasure it as a memorial of the great war." Councillor Ede accepted the gift on behalf of the Council. The ceremony was concluded by the playing of the National Anthem, and relatives laying wreaths at the cross.

At this stage no names were displayed. It took another two years before the names of the fallen were added to the memorial, on a wall behind the cross.

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Names of the fallen

At the Council committee meeting held on Tuesday 8 May 1923, the war memorial sub-committee submitted a report on adding to the memorial the names of those who fell. It was realised that there was insufficient room at the base of the memorial for the estimated 250 names. It was therefore decided to place the names on a wall behind the memorial. The wall was to hold five panels for the names of the fallen, and would include gates in memory of the University and Public Schools (UPS) brigade who formed and trained in Epsom at the start of the war. Money, as ever was a problem. £150 was still outstanding for the memorial, £223 was needed for the wall to take the names, with about another £100 needed for the lead lettering. The UPS gates had to be paid for, and so far £29 12s. 6d. had been collected. The wall was to be paid from the rates, but the lettering and UPS gates from public subscription.

UPS Gates
UPS Gates
Image courtesy of Clive Gilbert © 2017

The Accountant was instructed "to complete his list of names, as far as possible, advertise three times in local newspapers that a copy of such list may be seen at Bromley Hurst and at the Clerk's office and inviting corrections and additions."

The Badge on the UPS Gates
The Badge on the UPS Gates
Image courtesy of Clive Gilbert © 2017

On 8 June 1923 it was announced that a generous anonymous donor had offered "to defray the cost of putting the names of Residents who served and were killed in the war on a wall to be erected behind the War Memorial."

The Bronze Tablets on the UPS Gates
The Bronze Tablets on the UPS Gates
Image courtesy of Clive Gilbert © 2017

The Council met on 17 July 1923 and Mr. W. H. Hatchard Smith, the Architect, from a list of 22 tenders for the wall and railing round the War Memorial, "recommended the acceptance of the tender of Messrs. Fenning & Co. Ltd., of Palace Wharf, Rainville Road, Hammersmith, W.6, as per design in best grey Cornish Granite, including four lengths of ornamental wrought iron railings 2' 6" high above coping consisting of 20 Panels with Rosette in centre of each of stock pattern, and painted four coats at Works, and all delivered and fixed complete, including foundation, for the sum of £530 0s. 0d."

By September 1923 it was reported that a list of 262 names had been inserted in the local papers and that certain corrections and additions had been made, and that the work of cutting the lettering was in hand. The list of names referred to does not appear in the Epsom Advertiser, so presumably it was placed in the Epsom Herald, which is no longer available.

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Unveiling ceremony Sunday 11 November 1923

The Armistice Day ceremony in 1923 took place in front of the clock tower. There was gathered there a great crowd who had come to "pay homage to husbands, brothers, sons, sweethearts and comrades whose names are written on the town's memorial to the "Glorious Dead"." The service started at a 10-45am. Hymns were sung, prayers were spoken and at 11am a two minutes silence was observed. Buglers played the Last Post and then the Reveille. The service concluded with The Lord's Prayer, followed by the National Anthem.

It was not until 3pm that the wall bearing the names of the dead was unveiled. Again a large congregation formed up at the clock tower and marched to the Ashley Road memorial, and again hymns and prayers were sung and spoken. The wall was unveiled by Major-General Sir Edward Northey, after which many wreaths were laid at the foot of the cross, the Last Post and Reveille were played and the National Anthem played.

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Conclusion

Finally, after much argument and bickering, and five years had elapsed, a suitable memorial to the dead of Epsom had been completed. Well almost, for by the 22 November 1923 it was being reported that the names of certain deceased ex-servicemen from the town had been omitted from the list on the memorial wall, and on close inspection it will be noticed that three names have been added to the central panel, not in alphabetical order, bringing the total of names to 265. The additional names are Coppard W.T., Pink J. and Regan T.. Mrs Regan had written to the Council in February 1924 asking if her husband's name could be added to the list, so it seems that the Council agreed. There was still money owed for the work carried out, and some thought this would be a stigma on Epsom until it was paid.

There are Epsom men who were killed whose names are not on the memorial. Why? Perhaps they were overlooked, or more likely in my view, for whatever reason, their relatives did not want their names to appear.

It must be remembered that there were no government laws dictating what a memorial should look like or whose names should appear on it. Each community made its own decisions about the form and sighting of their memorial, and whose names should appear on it. It should also be remembered that most of the dead came from poor backgrounds, and money was scarce. How a working class woman widowed by the war, with several children to bring up, was supposed to find money to donate to a memorial fund does bear some thinking about. I suspect there were others in society who could have paid for the whole memorial and not noticed a change in their bank balance.

In Epsom it seems that the bereaved finally got the position they desired for the memorial, as part of the cemetery. Not the ex-servicemen, nor Doctors or Clergy or Architects, but the bereaved. To my mind this is how it should be. Clubs for ex-servicemen, hospitals for the sick and churches for the faithful should be part of everyday life. A war memorial, initially, will help the mourners grieve, then after the passage of time it will, hopefully, remind later generations of the enormous suffering that war can bring, and the incredible strength of those who had to bear the unbearable.

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Memorial Summary

Address of Memorial : Epsom Cemetery. Ashley Road Epsom Surrey KT18 5BP
Location of Memorial : Close to the junction of Ashley Road with Treadwell Road
OS Map Ref : TQ213594
Type : Cross of Sacrifice
Physical Description : Tall rough hewn white granite Celtic cross with crucifix. Names are inscribed in panels on a wall behind the cross.
Number of Names : 265
Access : Open
UKNIWM Reference : 23327