This report of the unveiling and dedication was published in the Brixton Free Press on 5 May 1922
STOCKWELL’S HEROIC DEAD.
Royal Unveiling of Imposing Monument.
One of the Finest of London’s War Memorials.
That which, in its genesis, was to have been a worthy memorial to the brave men of Stockwell who made the supreme sacrifice on their country’s behalf in the Great War has, by the process, partly of postponement and partly of development, become a worthy memorial to the glorious dead of the entire borough.
During three years the Stockwell War Memorial Committee have been enthusiastically engaged in raising funds for a clock tower which a public meeting decided should be erected on the once derelict district eyesore known as the Triangle, situated at the important junction of Clapham Road, Stockwell Road and South Lambeth Road.
As time went on the idea was developed, and with the abandonment of the Borough Nursing Home, which at one time was suggested as a permanent memorial to Lambeth’s heroic dead, the Stockwell scheme became considerably enlarged, and further appeals were made to meet the increasing cost. The entire memorial scheme has involved an expenditure of roughly £5,000, and the result is a very imposing clock tower at the apex of the triangle, massive in proportions, and rising to a height giving dignity and importance to the erection. The clock itself is the generous gift of Dr. Caiger, of the South West London Hospital, one of the many parents from whom the irrevocable toll was exacted.
The site itself has been laid out as a public garden by the Lambeth Borough Council at a cost of something approaching £1,000, but in its completed state there can hardly be two opinions that the money on a [sic] public improvements in the borough was never better spent. The green turf, the smart trees, and the travelled paths have invested the site with a beauty which will be appreciated by the residents for generations to come, and adds to the utilitarian aspect of the memorial. In the laying out of the ground the Borough Engineer deserves great credit for the transformation he has been able to effect at this spot. Upon the chairman of the committee (Capt. Wallace M. Young), and the hon. secretary, Mr. Samuel Bowller, tremendous demands have been made, but in their efforts to reach the ideal which they set before themselves they had the unstinted co-operation of the whole of the members of the committee, and were able to rely upon a great deal of public support in raising funds, especially in what may be regarded as the more or less adventitious methods which had to be adopted during the winter months, when successful dances were held in aid of the funds.
The result of the memorial as it stands to-day is such as to remove any slight criticism which may still exist as to schemes undertaken to complete the memorial and to secure for the committee the unqualified approval of the entire borough.
Shorn of the scaffolding, which has enclosed the clock tower for months past, and freed from the workmen and gardeners who have been engaged in laying out the site, the monument presents such an imposing appearance as to leave no doubt that the Stockwell Memorial is one of the finest public erections in London to those brave men whose great sacrifice can never be amply recognised.
As a monument, the clock tower raises its massive proportions in simple impressiveness and solemn dignity to a height of 45ft., and in appearance is no means unlike the Cenotaph in Whitehall, whose architect has gained the admiration of visitors from all parts of the world. But Stockwell’s column of stone possesses the advantage of housing a four-dial clock and the further advantage of standing within an open space accessible to the general public.
The successful architect, whose design was selected by Royal Academicians from a large number submitted, was Mr. Frank Dear, A.R.I. B.A., of John Street, Bedford Row, and the classical lines of Greek architecture form the basis of the design. On the main front appears the sculptured figure symbolical of “Remembrance,” which is the work of Mr. B. Clemens, of Chelsea. The figure is adorned with a laurel wreath, and at her feet is seen a broken sword. Beneath this figure appear the words, “To the Stockwell Men who Served in the Great War, 1914-1919.” Immediately below are two doors of teak, leading into the tower, and on a wall of this inner chamber, and visible through the door grilles, is a marble slab containing the names of the members of the committee, and the following inscription: “This monument was erected by subscriptions raised by the Committee of Stockwell residents, and presented together with the surrounding gardens, to the Lambeth Borough Council as a gift to the people for ever.” On the right, left, and back flanks of the tower are inscribed, at present, the names of 570 officers and men whose homes were within half a mile of the memorial and who made the great sacrifice. Above these names, on the right flank, are the appropriate words, “These were our sons who died for our lands,” and on the left flank the memorable phrase, “Their name liveth for evermore”; while on the back are the words, “In glory will they sleep and endless sanctity.”
The freehold of the land was obtained from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners through the kind services of Messrs. Clutton and conveyed to the Lambeth Borough Council inconsideration of an undertaking to maintain it as a garden in perpetuity. The contractor for the building was Mr. John F. Patrick, of Dalyell Road, Stockwell.
It seems a long time since the initial public meeting was held to discuss the Stockwell Memorial, when Sir Charles Gibbs presided, and addresses were delivered by Dr. Pearson, the Rev. Charles Spurgeon and others. But months and years of strenuous endeavour, sometimes in the face of critical hostility, were brought to happy fruition on Wednesday afternoon, when the unveiling and dedicatory ceremony was performed in the presence of an unprecedented concourse of people. Great eclat was given to the proceedings by the gracious presence of H.R.H. Princess Alice (Countess of Athlone), who unveiled the monument, and by the dedication of the same by the Lord Bishop of Kingston (The Right Rev. Dr. Herbert), who attended in the regrettable absence of His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose health has been somewhat uncertain of late, and who is this week presiding over the deliberations of the House of Convocation.
The weather was not quite so propitious as could have been desired, but happily during the actual ceremonial, rain, which fell in heavy showers before and after, held up, and the brief but impressive ceremony passed off without a hitch of any kind.
The sustained interest which the directors of the Stockwell Palladium have taken in the memorial scheme was further evidenced by their kindness in granting the use of their convenient theatre at the disposal of the civic guests as a robing room. The Mayor of Lambeth, wearing his official robes and chain of office, and accompanied by the mace bearer, was present in his capacity as chief citizen of the borough, and a large majority of the Aldermen and Councillors were likewise in attendance, wearing their robes.
Prior to the actual ceremony suitable music was played by the band of the “W” Division, Metropolitan Police, under the conductorship of Mr. Sylvester, and the choir of boys and girls from Spurgeon’s Orphanage near by, who were accommodated on a specially erected platform, sang “Thy will be done,” composed “in memory of our fallen heroes,” by Mr. Walter Partridge, the talented musical director of the Orphanage, under whose direction this very suitable item was rendered.
Punctually at 3 o’clock the Royal motor car arrived and the band played the National Anthem. Her Royal Highness, who was accompanied by her husband, the Earl of Athlone, was received by His Worship the Mayor, who had the honour of presenting to the Princess the following members of the Committee: Messrs. Wallace M. Young (chairman), Philip Bryman, Lennard Charles, Heaton C. Howard, David M. Jones, Henry King, James Mayo, William May Morgan, Sidney H. Stanley, Sidney Streeter, and Samuel Bowller (hon. secretary). A guard of honour was furnished by the East Surrey Regiment. The Princess was escorted to her place on a specially erected platform, facing the clock tower, still covered by a huge Union Jack. On the way Sir Charles H. Gibbs, Lambeth’s war-time Mayor, Mr. H. G. Purchase, M.P. (Kennington), and Councillors G. E. King and P. W. Willson had the honour of being presented to Her Royal Highness.
The ceremony proper commenced with the playing of Chopin’s Funeral March by the band of the “W” Division. With the Earl and Countess of Athlone on the platform were the Mayor, the Town Clerk (Mr. Bruce Penny), Capt. Wallace Young, Mr. Samuel Bowller, the Bishop of Kingston, the Revs. J. Smyth Wood and Henry Elkerton. The Princess was dressed in deep black, owing to the death of Lord Mountbatten, and carried a tightly rolled umbrella and a very neat handbag.
The opening sentences of the Burial Office were read by the Rev. J. Smyth Wood, of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Clapham Road. The immortal hymn, “O God, our Help in Ages Past” was sung by the vast crowd, and no better choice could have been made for the lesson, read by the Rev. Henry Elkerton, from the magnificent nine verses from the third chapter of the Book of Wisdom. These verses are so appropriate when we consider the great sacrifices made by men for a high national ideal, and the consolation is brought to many an aching heart by the assurance that “The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God, and there shall no torment touch them … Having been a little chastised they shall be greatly rewarded; for God proved them and found them worthy for Himself … Such as be faithful in love shall abide with Him; for grace and mercy is to His Saints, and He hath come for His elect.”
After this impressive reading the Stockwell Orphanage choir sang Sullivan’s “Homeland,” the children’s voices being heard to excellent effect.
The Speech Making.
Capt. Wallace Young (the chairman of the Memorial Committee) remarked that this day had long been looked forward to by the people of Stockwell. On this memorial were engraved some 570 names, but the committee, in spite of their energies could not expect to get a complete role [sic: roll]. This memorial had therefore been erected to the glorious memory of all men of Stockwell who returned not again. It was hoped that all passers by, who had some sorrowing recollections of the Great War, would take some comfort from the memorial erected to those who had made the supreme sacrifice. It was his privilege to ask Her Royal Highness to accept the committee’s best thanks for coming amongst them that afternoon, and he invited the Princess to graciously unveil the memorial.
The Princess stepped down from the platform and as she pulled the cords to release the Empire’s national flag she said, “To the glorious and lasting memory of the men of Stockwell who laid down their lives for their King and country.”
The Last Post and the Reveille were then sounded by two buglers of the East Surrey Regiment, after which the hymn, “For All the Saints” was sung to Barnby’s well-known tune.
At this point the memorial clock was set going, the hands pointing to 3.25pm.
The dedication of the memorial was by the Bishop of Kingston, whose admirable voice must have been heard by everyone in the great crowd. After the final dedication His Lordship commended to the mercy of God those who had fallen in the service of their country, and offered special prayers for wisdom and courage and that all might dedicate themselves anew to the service of Christ.”
Handing Over the Site.
Mr. Samuel Bowller, on behalf of the committee and subscribers, expressed the pleasure it gave him to ask His Worship the Mayor, as the chief representative of the Lambeth Borough Council, to accept the deeds of the garden site, together with the key of the monument, to hold for the perpetual use and benefit of the inhabitants of the borough.
The Mayor said he had very much pleasure indeed in accepting the deeds of the garden surrounding the memorial, particularly because the site had been for many years, though an open space, enclosed so far as the public were concerned. He rejoiced that this was now to be a public garden for ever, especially in view of the fact that upon it had been erected this very excellent memorial to the men of the Stockwell area of Lambeth who died during the Great War. Proceeding, His Worship exressed on behalf of the Borough Council and the people of Lambeth sincere and hearty thanks to Her Royal Highness for honouring them with her presence that day to unveil the memorial. As he had mentioned upon previous occasions, they were a very humble people in Lambeth, but he assured H.R.H. that they welcomed her sincerely for coming amongst them.
The Bishop then pronounced the Benediction, after which the Princess deposited at the base of the memorial a huge laurel wreath, tied with purple ribbons, and inscribed “Lest we Forget,” from the Stockwell War Memorial Executive Committee.
The playing of the National Anthem terminated the public portion of the ceremonial, and the Earl and Countess were shortly afterwards driven away, to the accompaniment of cordial cheers.
For a long time afterwards there was a continuous procession of people bearing floral tributes of affectionate remembrance of loved ones which were reverently placed at the base of the tower. Among the representative tributes were those from a “Few Stockwell boys,” from the Brixton and Kennington branch of the N.C.U. (deposited by Mr. F. J. Hortop), and from the Lambeth Division of the British Red Cross in the form of a cushion, deposited by Miss Breese, the divisional secretary.
The regulation of the huge throng was very efficiently discharged by a large body of police, mounted and on foot, while Mr. Dan Davies, commandant of the Lambeth British Red Cross Society was present, with a goodly number of members to render first aid in the event of necessity. Other public organisations represented were the Girls’ Life Brigade, in charge of Commandant Hookins, the Church Lads’ Brigade, and the Salvation Army G.L.B.
In the garden itself a number of commodious seats have been generously provided by various residents.
Useful work as steward during the time of the ceremony was done by Mr. A. Clarke.
After the ceremony members of the committee and of the Borough Council, together with friends and guests, were generously entertained to tea by the directors of the Stockwell Palladium, in the York Restaurant. Here the Mayor of Lambeth took occasion to thank the directors of the theatre for their kind support to the memorial committee not only on that day but ever since the memorial was first decided upon. His Worship added that the memorial was indeed worthy of everybody’s support, and he expressed the earnest desire that the comparatively small balance still remaining would be speedily liquidated in order that the committee might be relieved of further financial burden.
Mr. Ellis Parker, chairman of the Palladium, acknowledged the compliment paid by the Mayor, and assured all that it was a pleasure to the directors to do anything they could for the people of Stockwell.
The Mayor thought that such a gathering on such an occasion should not close without a few words from him who had been for so many years and so honourably been associated with the municipal life of the borough, namely Sir Charles Gibbs.
Sir Charles, who was cordially received recalled the fact that it was his pleasure to preside at the first public meeting, when a Stockwell memorial was decided upon, and he commented on the great development of hte idea from that which was originally anticipated and added his plea tot hat of the Mayor, that the small balance remaining to complete the scheme would speedily be forthcoming.
Amongst those who wrote expressing their regret at being unable to attend Wednesday’s ceremonial was Sir Davison Dalziel, Brixton’s M.P.,who sent a further contribution of £5. Another gentleman whose absence was the cause for general regret was Dr. Pearson, who had identified himself so much with the progress of the movement, and who regards the memorial in the light of the tomb of his own dear son. But Dr. Pearson felt that he could not bear the strain which the ordeal of unveiling and dedicating this memorial would impose upon him.
Thus stands, in all its imposing simplicity, a worthy memorial, not only to Stockwell’s unforgettable dead, but a monument which adds dignity to the public works of the borough, and is a crowning triumph to a vast amount of unremitting toil on the part of the committee inspired by the one desire that, as far as possible, the clock tower should worthily commemorate the self sacrifice of the flower of Stockwell’s manhood in the never to be forgotten Homeric struggle in the cause of Justice, Freedom and Humanity.
The following additional subscriptions to the fund have been received:-
£10, Mr. F. Surridge;
£5 5s. Mr. G. D. Howlett, Mr. W. P. Howlett, Mrs. Howlett, Mr. E. Muspratt;
£5 Messrs. Beaufoy and Co.;
£3 3s. Mr. S. J. Adams;
£2 2s. Mr. F. Budge, Mr. Larner, Mr. Stedman, Mr. S. A. Newman, Mr. David Williams, Mr. J. M. Cable;
£2 Rev. G. D. Barton Poole, Mrs. Trimmer;
£1 15s. Collection, Studley Road Chapel;
£1 12s. Mrs. Worley;
£1 11s. 6d. Mr. H. Kenyon Jeffes;
£1 10s. Mrs. Gayton, Mrs. L. M. Standley, Mr. Wm. Ogilvie;
£1 5s. Mrs. Honer;
£1 2s 6d. Mrs. Hobbs;
£1 1s. Mr. W. Percy, Mr. R. A. Reeve, Mrs. Reeve, Mr. W. Percy, Capt. Ridley, Mr. W. A. Smith, Mrs. Sore, Mr S. Papworth, Mrs. Bradban, Mr. A. E. Roberts, Mr. T. H. Wyatt, Mr. Wm. Downing, Mr. Arrowsmith, Miss Struthig, Messrs. Cornells Ltd., Mr Fred Corben, Mr. Percy Wilson, Messrs. Sydney Presbury and Co., Miss Hayward, Mr. S. J. Adams;
£1 Councillor T. S. Chatter, Miss N. F. Bailey, Mrs. Leach, Mr. Barnes, Mrs. A. Ashton, Rev. Monar Brown, Mrs. Barlow, Rev. Hy. Elkerton, Mrs. Nadaud, Major A. Ford-Young, Mrs. Spice, Mr. A. Cunningham, Mr. Walter Briant, Mrs. Candy, Mrs. Barlow, Mr. W. Wilson, Mrs. Norris, Rev. J. Smyth Wood, Mr. W. Keys;
15s. Mrs. Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. Porter
12s. 6d. Mr. E. Upton, Miss M. Odam;
11s. Mrs. E. E. Scott;
10s. 6d. Mr. A. J. Worthy, Miss Burdett, Mr. R. J. Jewell, Mr. A. C. Ardley, Mr. J. W. Sawyer, Mr. Councillor H. A. De Bourcier, Mr A. T Corkett, Mrs. E. F. Goldsworth, Mr. H. Attwood, Mrs. A. J. Alsopp, Mr. E. Hogg, Mr. Councillor T. S. Chutter, Mr. Pulsford;
10s. Mrs. Hart, Mrs. Shopland, Mrs. Nash, Mr. F. J. Farrell, Miss Bunn, Mrs. J. Tredwin, Mrs. Seymore, Mr. W. J. Hocking, Mrs. Barnes, Councillor Mrs. Hare, Mrs. Teakle, Mr. L. G. Smith, Mrs. Williams, Mr. A. Smith, Mrs. Meacock, Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Burmister, Mrs. Ridout, Mr. and Mrs. G. E. Noyes, Mr. W. Bird, Mr. H. J. Wild, Mrs. Gray, Mrs. L. Trace, Mrs. Fittall, Mrs. Collett, Mrs. Cutmore, Miss R. Verney, Mr. and Mrs. White, Mr. E. F. Hills, Mr. Councillor J. Fox-Davies, Miss E. Smith:
Total of amounts under 10s., £147 14s. 6d.
The Mayor’s appeal last week had realised £86 3s. 3d.