Notes on The North London Railway War Memorial

Peter Bloomfield with help from Alison Kay, NRM, in respect of “St Paul’s List,” and David Hanson, NLRHS

At the July 1919 Board Meeting the Chairman, Mr A H Holland-Hibbert, announced that it would not be possible for the staff who fell in The Great War to be included on the proposed memorial to the men of the London and North Western Railway who gave their lives. The view expressed at the meeting was that some kind of memorial should, if possible, be provided at Broad Street Station. [TNA RAIL 529/34, 24 July 1919, Minute 9040.]

In May 1919 there was a memorial service at St Paul’s Cathedral in memory of those railwaymen who fell in the war. In a book held by The National Railway Museum, “St Paul’s Cathedral divine service in memory of those railwaymen who laid down their lives for their country in the Great War, 1914-1918, Wednesday May 14th 1919,” there is what was thought to be a complete list of railwaymen serving in the armed forces who were killed in The Great War. Unfortunately there is no mention of the sixty-five men who are shown on the NLR War Memorial.

The author’s theory is that it stems from when the LNWR took over the running of the NLR on 1st February 1909. Obviously the LNWR took on most of the NLR staff and their names were included in their staff registers, although presumably accounted for separately. As mentioned above, the St Paul’s Cathedral divine service was held in May 1919 and just two months later, in July, the Chairman announced that it would not be possible for the staff who fell in The Great War to be included on the proposed LNWR memorial. Could it have been that the NLR Board thought that the LNWR was taking all action in relation to memorials to the NLR fallen and it only came to light this was not so when no NLR names were included in the St Paul’s list?

Unfortunately, because of the omission from the St Paul’s List there is no reference to either the NLR or its fallen in an otherwise very comprehensive book on railwaymen in the Great War by Jeremy Higgins: Great War Railwaymen, Britain’s Railway Company Workers at War, Uniform Press, 2014. All profits are split evenly between the Army Benevolent Fund and Railway Benevolent Fund.

The NLR memorial was designed by Reginald Wynn Owen, architectural assistant in the Engineer’s Office. In May 1920 the Chairman announced that the cost of the memorial would be:

Tender of Hopton-Wood Stone Firms Ltd for Memorial & inscriptions £441 – 13 – 0
Substructure by Railway Company (estimated) £60 – 0 – 0
Total £501 – 13 – 0

[Scholey, Keith, The North London Railway War Memorial, North London Railway Historical Society Journal, Issue No 18, 1996, page 1: TNA RAIL 529/34, 20 May 1920, Minute 9169. RAIL 1110/366, 24 February 1921, Proceedings of AGM. His forename is shown as Reginald on his salary cards and 1911 Census and not Robert as stated in the article: RAIL 410/1890, RAIL 426/14 and RG 14/7706, RG 78/380, RD140 SD2 ED8 SN280. Hopton Wood was the name originally given to the stone quarried in a wood on the Hopton Estate. This was in the early years of the nineteenth century. In 1905 two quarrying firms in the area around the village Middleton, south-west of Matlock in Derbyshire, joined forces to form The Hopton-Wood Stone Firms Limited. Post 1914-18 war Hopton-Wood stone was used for war graves’ headstones. The company was dissolved in December, 1995 (]

It was agreed that the ceremony of unveiling the War Memorial would take place at Broad Street Station at eleven o’clock in the morning on Thursday the 10th February, 1921, presumably because a meeting of the Board was due be held that day. For convenience the meeting was arranged to be held at Broad Street, instead of Euston, after the ceremony. [TNA RAIL 529/34, 20 January 1921, Minute 9287.]

The memorial was unveiled by the Chairman of the Company in the presence of the directors and managers of the company, relatives of the fallen, representatives of the Company’s staff, and also the general public. The Dedicatory Service was conducted by the Reverend G W Hudson Shaw, M.A., Rector of St. Botolph’s, Bishopsgate, who also gave an inspiring address. For the occasion the memorial had been covered by a large Union Jack. After the unveiling, the Chairman laid a wreath from the directors and gave an impressive and sympathetic speech. Other wreaths were from the officers of the company, various departments, and relatives of the fallen. Also present was a choir of railwaymen who sang the hymn “O God our help in ages past” and the National Anthem. Two trumpeters sounded the Last Post. [LNWR Gazette, Vol 10, No 101, p62, 1921 (TNA ZPER 13/8). A passing reference was made in The Times, 11 February 1921, p7, col 6.]

The memorial on the concourse at Broad Street station was described by the Railway Gazette as a monument twelve feet nine inches high and three feet square. The base of grey granite and the upper part of Hopton-wood stone of a brown colour. The four sides have sunk panels, in one of which is incised the inscription: “In memory of North London railwaymen who fell in the Great War 1914-1919”. The names of the fallen are incised in the remaining three panels and above the inscription there is a projecting block of stone with a raised wreath of laurel leaves carved on it. All the lettering is executed in Roman letters. The monument terminates with a cornice moulding surmounted by a slightly tapering block of stone. [TNA ZPER 9/33, Railway Gazette, 11 February, 1921, page 190.]

The Board Minute and the report in The Times, stated that sixty-four members of the Company’s Staff laid down their lives in the Great War. Now the Memorial shows sixty-five names. The additional name is H. Prickett on the left hand side (it is not in alphabetical order and it is where there would have been a gap, matching the the gap at the top of the opposite side). [TNA RAIL 529/34, 10 February 1921, Minute 9297, The Times, Friday 11 February, 1921, page 7.]

One of the earliest casualties was Major V R Hoare, a Director of the NLR, who was killed in France on 14th February, 1915. He is not shown on the Memorial. [TNA RAIL 529/33, 25 February 1915, Minute 8224.]

The inscriptions on the Memorial are:    
Front Right hand side Rear Left hand side
(when looking at the memorial from the front)    
[blank] W. A. Darke H. Prickett
G. Askew J. E. Delaney G. H. McGuire
F. J. Ayling A. Doggett H. E. Phillips
W. G. Baker H. Ellis G. H. Prager
IN MEMORY OF A. J. Barson J. Gregory A .E. Rich
NORTH LONDON S. Batchelor T. J. Griffin A. E. Rome
RAILWAYMEN H. G. Benning A .A. Hammond E. Rowland
WHO FELL IN G. R. Bond E. W. Harris H. V. Rymer
THE GREAT WAR C. A. Bounsall G. W. Harris R. W. Schofield
H. Brown F. G. Hennem E. J. Smith
1914 – 1919 R. Burton F. Hopkins J. Stone
W. J. Butler E. Howard E. Taylor
R. P. Campion E. Jones W. Turner
J. Carter W. C. H. Joyce W. Waite
J. Cocklin G. C. T. Judd A. Walters
A. Coe H. C. E. Knightley T. Ward
C. F. Cook R. H. Law W. R. Welsh
S. A. Cooper W. G. Leaper L. H. G. Westwood
E. A. Couch W. Lewis T. J. Willatts
J. Crowder J. J. Lowry H. J. W. Williams
C. E. Cubberley A .G. Mancey G. W. Winch
W. W. Curry J. P. McCormack A. G. Woodley

Presumably the dates of 1914-1919, instead of the more usual 1914-1918, are because that, although the fighting ceased on 11th November 1918, it was not until 1919 that the peace treaty of Versailles was signed. A poignant fact is that soldiers were still dying of the wounds that they received in battle. Between the January and February 1919 Board meetings a further North London railwayman died of wounds. The death in January 1919 was that of Lance-Corporal John Crowder, Royal Engineers, who died on the 12th, as shown on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission head stone, or 13th, on his death certificate. [TNA RAIL 529/34, 16 January 1919, Minute 8933; 20 February 1919, Minute 8955. GRO Death Mar qtr 1919 Crowder John, 33, Epsom, vol 2a, p 61.]

Unveiling of the War Memorial
Unveiling ceremony (LNWR Gazette, 1921, Vol 10, No 103, p562 [TNA ZPER 13/8])
Memorial at Broad Street Station
Memorial at Broad Street Station (Photograph: J E Connor) The name Prickett can just be made out at the top of the names on the left of the memorial.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. 
At the going down of the sun and in the morning 
We will remember them. Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

Move to Richmond Station

With the demolition of Broad Street station imminent, the first week of June 1985 saw the careful dismantlement of the memorial, with the stone blocks being laid out on one of the platforms. This revealed about a 12 inch cube space in the middle in which, unfortunately, no contemporary artefacts were found. On 17th June the pieces were taken by road to be stored temporarily in the parcels office at British Rail’s Richmond station, which was undergoing modernisation at the time. When the rebuilding was completed the memorial was re-erected in Richmond station car park, with the rededication taking place on 4th June 1989. Richmond was a station which, in North London Railway days, was owned by the London and South Western Railway, as was the track from there to South Acton. Nevertheless, from the opening of the South Acton to Richmond line the North London ran regular passenger services over it from and to Broad Street. So there is a tenuous connection. Apparently, Camden Road and Highbury and Islington stations were considered but were thought to be too prone to vandalism. [Bancroft, P, Broad Street, Death of a Station!, London Railway Record, No 2, Jan 1995, pages 26-27. War Memorial Archive, IWM, reference 3089 (below) quotes Richmond & Twickenham Times of 9th June 1989, p5, “It is understood that the memorial was moved to Richmond because it was thought that there was nowhere on the original North London Railway that was secure from vandalism.”.]

Memorial in Richmond station car park, November 2008 (Photograph: Martin Bloomfield)
Memorial in Richmond station car park, November 2008 (Photograph: Martin Bloomfield)

When you go Home, tell them of us and say, For your Tomorrow, we gave our Today. John Maxwell Edmunds

Rededication Service after return to NLR Territory

In 2009 there was a plan by the Railway Heritage Committee in conjunction with Transport for London’s East London Line Project to relocate the memorial closer to its original home at one of the four new London Overground stations on the East London line’s northern extension, three of which are on the former City Branch of the North London Railway. In the summer of 2010 it was re-erected at Hoxton and rededicated on 7th June, 2011. The ceremony opened with a short speech of introduction by The Commissioner of Transport for London, Peter Hendy. This was followed by the rededication service conducted by the Reverend James Westcott, Vicar of St Chad’s parish, Haggerston. Two standard bearers of the Royal British Legion were in attendance and a RBL member laid a wreath. A party of children from the local school was also present. [Author present at Rededication Service.]

Memorial at Hoxton 7th June 2011 (Photographs: Martin Bloomfield)
Memorial at Hoxton 7th June 2011  (Photograph: Martin Bloomfield)
The Memorial Peter Hendy and Rev James Westcott (Photograph: Martin Bloomfield)
Peter Hendy and Rev James Westcott (Photograph: Martin Bloomfield)

100th Anniversary of The Outbreak of The Great War

At two o’clock on the afternoon of the 4th August 2014 a short ceremony took place at the NLR War Memorial, Hoxton, marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War. The ceremony was opened by Mike Brown, MVO, Managing Director, London Underground and Rail, Transport for London, giving a short speech. This was followed by Jim Connor, NLR Historical Society, giving a talk on the history of the monument from its planning and unveiling until its removal from Broad Street and, after a lengthy spell in the car park at Richmond, its re-erection at Hoxton. The ceremony concluded with a recitation along with the laying of two poppy wreaths and two minutes silence. The wreaths were laid by Mike Brown and Peter Austin, Managing Director, London Overground Rail Operations, Ltd. [Report by J E Connor.]

Jim Connor on the history of the Memorial
Jim Connor on the history of the Memorial – Memorial at Hoxton 4th August 2014 (Photograph: Transport for London)
The two Managing Directors
The two Managing Directors – Memorial at Hoxton 4th August 2014 (Photograph: Transport for London)

Under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, as amended, the “North London Railwaymen War Memorial” was granted Grade II listed status. It is recorded in The National List for England, case number 1445194, 5th April 2017. The reason for calling it North London Railwaymen War Memorial is that it is how it is engraved on the memorial itself. The lack of the word “Railway” could lead to confusion in years to come – “What, only sixty-five railwaymen from North London were killed in The Great War? Come off it.”

Watch this space:

100th Anniversary of the Armistice, the day The Great War Ended

On the 11th November 2018….

100th Anniversary of the Unveiling of Memorial at Broad Street Station

On the 10th February 2021….

The memorial is listed in the War Memorial Archive, Imperial War Museum, reference 3089. []


National Heritage List for England

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