LEEK RAMBLERS

Leek Post & Times - - DOWN YOUR WAY -

RICHARD Bene­fer treated fel­low ramblers to a walk around some of Leek’s most fa­mous war memo­ri­als prior to the group’s AGM.

We started at Hare­gate Com­mu­nity Cen­tre and our first stop was at the Ball Haye me­mo­rial. The struc­ture forms a gated arch lead­ing to the Ball Haye Green play­ground and park. The sand­stone arch is in­scribed “Pro Pa­tria”, (For Coun­try). On ei­ther side of the arch are bronze plaques with the names of 23 men who lost their lives in the tragic car­nage of the 1914–1918 war and 163 who fought and sur­vived the war.

Our sec­ond stop was at All Saints church in Comp­ton. The me­mo­rial is a small plinth on which stands a wooden carv­ing of the cru­ci­fied Je­sus. The stone plinth is in­scribed with the names of parish­ioners who died in the two World Wars.

We then crossed the main road and en­tered Leek’s main ceme­tery. Richard showed us the grave of Ted Has­sall, the Choco­late Sol­dier, so called be­cause of a re­la­tion­ship he es­tab­lished with a girl who sent a bar of choco­late to the trenches to sup­port the troops.

Richard has in­ves­ti­gated the story and has writ­ten a book (avail­able, he as­sured us, from all good book­sell­ers).

We then vis­ited the grave of the Ni­chol­son fam­ily who gave the me­mo­rial at the end of Derby Street to re­mem­ber their son who per­ished in WW1. The Ni­chol­son fam­ily moved from Leek and the grave is rarely vis­ited.

We then walked to the Ni­chol­son War Me­mo­rial. Sir Arthur Ni­chol­son and his wife Lady Mar­i­anne Ni­chol­son pre­sented the me­mo­rial to the town in mem­ory of their son Lieu­tenant Basil Lee Ni­chol­son (who was killed in ac­tion at Ypres, Bel­gium, in 1915, at the age of 24) and all the other lo­cal men who died fight­ing in the First World War.

The tower stands 93 feet high and dom­i­nates the east end of Derby Street. One’s eye is drawn to the clock face mounted in the Port­land stone. We were priv­i­leged to en­ter the tower as Richard is a vol­un­teer guide and he showed us the clock mech­a­nism which drives and syn­chro­nises the four clock faces.

As we ap­proach the hun­dredth an­niver­sary of the end to the dev­as­tat­ing con­flict, we read the in­scrip­tions on the Mon­u­ment and thought about the 535 men and women com­mem­o­rated and sac­ri­ficed in two dread­ful wars.

We re­turned to Hare­gate for our re­fresh­ments and AGM.

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