In Memoriam

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By Colin Barnsley 

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First Published 31/10/2021
Last Updated 13/1/2022

 

A brief history of the siting, re-siting and names on our war memorials
 

Creation of the Memorials - Cheadle Royal

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After the end of World War 1, huge numbers of memorials were built across Europe during the 1920s and 1930s, to commemorate the events and casualties involved in the conflict   .

Our first memorial was an oak panel, with a "large carved border of laurel leaves 100mm wide" and inscribed "to the memory of [...names..] members of staff of the hospital who served their king and country in the great war 1914-1918 and gave their lives with their service."  It is located inside The Priory (Cheadle Royal)   .

 

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The main Long Lane War Memorial which originally stood in the corner of Cheadle Royal’s grounds closest to Etchells Road, first appears on a map in 1934 ; but this is doubtless because this is the first post-WW1 map available to us. 

The precise dates when Heald Green's memorials were created is not known. Though the memorials are recorded in the
Imperial War Museum archive here   and here   , the precise dates of their construction are not given, nor referred to in local history books, Heald Green in Wartime    or Long Lane Cheadle, Remembered   , so the best we can say is between 1918 and 1934.

 

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Fig. 1 Oak Panel WW1 Memorial
in The Priory, Cheadle Royal

© Paul Crofton
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"If you look carefully at the wall you can see a short piece of wall where the top coping stones are different. That's where the original Memorial stood."   - Margaret Burns, 2021

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Fig. 2 The Long Lane War Memorial
in its original location, 1998

© W.I. Williams (image from Long
Lane Cheadle, Remembered
)
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Fig. 3 The former location of Long Lane War Memorial, pictured in 2021
© Colin Barnsley 2021
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Dora Turner Gardens

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Fig. 4 Appletree Farm (show on 1880 map) and Dora Turner Gardens (green, on 2020 map)
© ARCHI Information Systems Ltd
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"Dora Turner (nee Kirkham) was a Ratepayers' councillor for several years until 1974. She was married to Ben Turner the builder, and gave the land where the War Memorial [was re-located] to the Council."   - Margaret Burns, 2021

"At the other end of the memorial garden there is still an old gnarled apple tree that still bears fruit every year. I like to think it’s from the farm."   - Helen Morgan, 2021

"... the Turners had two daughters Carol and Marjorie and lived in the first detached house on the right on Dawson Road ... they had a brick air raid shelter in their garden where we used to play...there were several other houses with family members living in them."   - Ann Park, 2021

"Ben Turner ["Old Ben"] built [the houses in the] Dawson Road [area] and [his son, "Young Ben"]  built Drayton Drive etc. My father put the roofs on them all. Worked for both Old Ben and Young Ben"   - Shirley Slack, 2021

Fig. 5 Dora Turner Gardens before landscaping, Mona Ave looking to Wilmslow Road , 1960s
© Ratepayer's Association
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Fig. 6 Flyer for Rededication Service
© Ratepayer's Association
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Fig. 7 Long Lane War Memorial, c. 2007
Dora Turner Gardens, Wilmslow Road (Long Lane)

© Ratepayer's Association
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The inscription reads,
"To the memory/ of the men/ of Long Lane and District/ who fell in the Great War/ (names)/ 1939-1945/ (names)"   .

 

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The Missing Name

Chris Walsh best explains what's happened since, in an account written in November 2020.

"As we have had both
Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day this week, I thought it might be a fitting time to post this story on a local social media community site. It is the story of how the name of a resident of Heald Green was for some strange reason left off the of the Village War memorial at the end of the 2nd World War.

Sergeant Kenneth Walmsley lived on Ash Grove, Heald Green when he enlisted for the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. He was killed in action on New Year’s Day 1944 when the Wellington bomber in which he was a crew member (rear gunner) crashed in Southern England on return from a night time operation over France. He was just 19 years of age. Sgt. Walmsley was cremated at South Manchester Crematorium on 7th Jan 1944 where his name is commemorated on a Memorial Wall.

It was not until much later in 1996 that Sgt. Walmsley’s name was mentioned in a book “Heald Green in Wartime”, written by local author Joan Heinekey who lived in the village, and for many years was our librarian. During her research for the book, details of Kenneth Walmsley’s death were uncovered but no reason could be found for the omission of his name from the Village War Memorial.

Still later in 2014, two members of St Catherine’s Church, Heald Green (Hazel and Paul Crofton) decided to research all the names on the Village War Memorial “to make real the names of the Long Lane Memorial”. Hazel and Paul produced two booklets, one each for the 1st and 2nd World Wars. In the one relating to the 2nd World War Kenneth Walmsley was again mentioned and, as his name was not present on the Memorial they did much research into trying to trace living relatives of Kenneth, but this was not successful.

This might have been the end of the story. However local councillors, led by Adrian Nottingham, decided to look into the possibility of adding Sgt. Walmsley’s name to the Village Memorial. This proved to be a very difficult process and involved lots of negotiation with Stockport Council, with one of the main obstacles being to prove Sgt. Walmsley had actually been a resident of the village. Lots of work was carried out by Norman Humphreys in negotiating with Stockport Council on behalf of the Heald Green Ratepayers, who provided the funds for work to be carried out by a local stone mason.

Eventually Sgt. Walmsley’s name was added to the Village Memorial in 2017 (73 years after his death) which is a credit to all those people who spent many hours making this possible.

The booklets produced by Hazel and Paul Crofton covering the stories of the names listed on the Memorial can be found on the St Catherine’s Church website and are reproduced with permission in the heritage library; WW1 and WW2 onwards."

A service of dedication and remembrance was held for Lance Corporal David Wilson Stitt on 17th October 2021 at
St. Catherine's Church.   He was killed in the bombing of the Droppin' Well bar in Ballykelly, Northern Ireland, in December 1982. David's name  is recorded on the top of the separate, right hand side plinth, as you face the main memorial. War Graves Commission rules prevent it being recorded on the main Memorial as he didn't die during the First or Second World Wars.

 

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Fig. 9 Piper, Scouts and Residents at the Memorial, 2018
© Margaret Burns
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Fig. 9 The Village War Memorial 2021
© Ratepayer's Association
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Fig. 10 The Village War Memorial 2021
© Colin Barnsley 2021
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