Memo­rial Park opened as trib­ute to the fallen

Warwickshire Telegraph - - WE WILL REMEMBER THEM - By DUN­CAN GIB­BONS

COVEN­TRY’S War Memo­rial Park opened on July 9, 1921, as the city’s trib­ute to the 2,600 lo­cal ser­vice­men who lost their lives dur­ing the con­flict.

Pre­vi­ously the 120-acre site was lit­tle more than a large grassed area that once formed Styvechale Com­mon, which was part farm­land and part wood­land.

The land was owned by the lords of Styvechale Manor - the Gre­go­ryHood fam­ily - who sold it to Coven­try City Coun­cil to en­able the park to be cre­ated.

The idea was for a £5,000 war memo­rial in the cen­tre from which av­enues planted with memo­rial cop­per beech trees would ra­di­ate, along with sports fa­cil­i­ties, a chil­dren’s play­ground and other pub­lic ameni­ties.

But due to lim­ited funds and ur­gent pri­or­i­ties else­where in Coven­try, such as lo­cal hous­ing pro­vi­sion, the cre­ation of the park would ul­ti­mately take more than ten years.

Plant­ing be­gan in the spring of 1925 and the av­enues were opened to the pub­lic that sum­mer.

The 90ft-high war memo­rial tower funded with do­na­tions and de­signed in an Art Deco-style by lo­cal ar­chi­tect Thomas Fran­cis Tick­ner, was in­au­gu­rated by Field Mar­shall Dou­glas Haig on Oc­to­ber 8, 1927. It is made of re­in­forced con­crete and clad in Port­land stone and was built by John Gray who once lived at Coombe Abbey.

Gray also built the Cour­taulds works at Foleshill and a num­ber of hous­ing es­tates, par­tic­u­larly Wyken and Stoke. In­side the memo­rial is a room called the Cham­ber of Si­lence.

Ev­ery year on Re­mem­brance Sun­day, it is open for the pub­lic to view the Roll of the Fallen, books list­ing all the Coven­try men killed in the two world wars and in more re­cent con­flicts. Most other neigh­bour­hoods also com­mis­sioned their own me­mo­ri­als. A num­ber were only made of wood and plas­ter, the in­ten­tion be­ing to re­place them when the money was raised, but in the cases of Earls­don and Foleshill, this never hap­pened.

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