Pride as our bor­ough re­mem­bered fallen on Great War cen­te­nary

Stockport Express - - History - STEVE CLIFFE Ed­i­tor of Stock­port Her­itage Mag­a­zine

THOU­SANDS of Stop­for­dians marched up Welling­ton Road to Stock­port War Me­mo­rial Art Gallery on Re­mem­brance Sun­day, mark­ing one cen­tury since the end of hos­til­i­ties in the Great War.

I was proud to be among hun­dreds in the lantern pa­rade, which as­sem­bled in front of the neo-clas­si­cal fa­cade to hear the Mayor com­mem­o­rate the sac­ri­fice made by young men and women, and see the bea­con lit by their de­scen­dants.

The spec­ta­cle was both mov­ing and eerie, with the sil­hou­ettes of soldiers on the steps. There are nearly 3,000 names from that con­flict in­scribed in stone through­out the bor­ough.

Had those he­roes all marched briskly past in sin­gle file they would have stretched from Heaton Nor­ris to Great Moor along the A6, and taken at least half an hour to pass the Mayor.

No-one re­alised what price was to be paid when Bri­tain en­tered the first great Euro­pean war since Napoleon. But in Stock­port by 1918 we did know the aw­ful price, and paid a gen­er­ous pub­lic sub­scrip­tion for one of the very few war memo­ri­als in the form of an art gallery, as well as a tem­ple of peace to the fallen.

Part of the £24,000 cost in­cluded £2,100 for a statue of Bri­tan­nia in white mar­ble, hold­ing a sword of vic­tory and a lau­rel wreath to crown a naked kneel­ing youth rep­re­sent­ing the fallen, whose feet rest on a ser­pent crushed be­neath a shield, chis­elled by the fa­mous sculp­tor Gil­bert Led­ward. In the hall of re­mem­brance you are also walk­ing on French and Bel­gian mar­ble.

The grade two star build­ing was opened in 1925 by Prince Henry, son of King Ge­orge V, watched by hun­dreds of vet­er­ans of the con­flict. I re­mem­ber some of those men and women as old peo­ple – a nurse who had been in Rus­sia and saw Rasputin, the bearded ma­gi­cian who hung around the Czar. I also in­ter­viewed a sol­dier tor­pe­doed off Gal­lipoli and res­cued from the sea by a mate who could swim, an­other who had been cap­tured in the Ger­man of­fen­sive of 1918, sur­vived a prison camp and came back to Stock­port to serve in the Bor­ough Po­lice.

There are so many sto­ries and it’s im­por­tant that young­sters learn what their rel­a­tives did to help pre­serve the coun­try they loved. »»Please try to sup­port her­itage and re­mem­ber that Stock­port Her­itage Mag­a­zine and other pub­li­ca­tions can be bought from St Mary’s Her­itage Cen­tre, Mar­ket Place, also stock­port her­itagemagazine.co.uk

●»Sil­hou­ettes of soldiers on the steps of the War Me­mo­rial Art Gallery at the bea­con light­ing

●»The lantern pa­rade started from Stock­port Mar­ket Place

●»A lone sol­dier stands guard over the me­mo­rial at Heaton Moor

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