Ashton War Memorial
The memorial Gardens between Old Street, Crickets Lane and Mossley Road.
The memorial is 35ft high and built from 50 tons of Portland stone. The crowning group, comprising a wounded soldier figure and the winged figure of peace, is made of bronze and weighs two tons. The soldier, wounded and exhausted, holds a spray of laurels in his bandaged left hand. The winged figure of peace supports him, taking the sword of honour, which he holds.
The soldier, having received the laurels of everlasting gratitude, hands over his sword, the symbol of justice, which the winged figure takes into her keeping.
About the base, the RAF is represented by a propeller and steering wheel, the Royal Navy by ropes and an anchor, and the army by trench mortars, riffles, swords, steel helmets and gas masks.
There are two lions, one either side of the central column, each weighing two tons. They are on bases 6ft high and typify the British Empire. One is in combat with the serpent of evil, while the other has crushed the serpent and is triumphant.
The memorial bears 38 bronze panels bearing the names of those who died in the Great War. Each is inscribed with about 40 names, a total of 1,512. The names of those who died in the Second World War 301 in all are on two panels, one housed on the extreme left of the memorial, and one on the extreme right.
A bronze tablet on the front of the memorial states: “Erected in honour of the men of Ashton Under Lyne and district who fought for King and Empire in the Great War, especially those who sacrificed their lives, and whose names are recorded hereon 1914-1919”. On the left-hand side of the panel is the borough coat of arms, and on the right, a shield with crossed lances, topped with a torch.
Beneath this panel is a smaller one, long and narrow, stating “1939-45”. On the front of the central column, in bronze, there is a wreath above four panels which state, reading downwards: “Belgium, France, Gallipoli, Egypt, Italy,” The same style is used on the back with: “Mesopotamia, Africa, Turkey, Macedonia, Russia.”
The architect was Percy Howard ARIBA who was born in Ashton. The sculptor was J Ashton Floyd ARCA (sc) London of Plymouth Grove, Manchester.
General Sir Ian Hamilton unveiled the memorial on Saturday, 16 September, 1922, in front of a crowd of 20,000 people.
During the ceremony, a wooden viewing platform collapsed and 40 people fell 20 feet, some being seriously hurt.
The tablets commemorating the 301 Ashton servicemen who died in the 1939-45 conflict were unveiled on Saturday, 11 November, 1950, by the Mayor of Ashton, Alderman E Clark. They were dedicated by the Rector of Ashton, Canon AE Horner.