WW1 Memorial Wall
In 2014 the group decided to create a lasting memorial to the men and women of Darwen who died as a consequence of fighting in World War One and who are buried in Darwen Cemetery.
Several designs and locations were considered.
May 2014 – F.O.D.C. unveil our tribute to WW1 soldiers
The project is to provide fitting recognition to those buried in Darwen Cemetery as a result of the First World War is an imaginative attempt both to mark this important milestone in Darwen’s history and to act as a spur to the Friends of Darwen Cemetery’s efforts to restore the Cemetery to its former high standard of maintenance.
The facility will be a place for peaceful personal contemplation and will help to bring collective recognition to the individual soldiers buried within sight of it.
Interpretation and education are central to the project, with a very strong emphasis on ensuring that Darwen’s First World War experiences are given due recognition, particularly as Darwen suffered unusually heavily for a town of its size.
Schools pupils and children are very much at the heart of everything we seek to do, with their thoughts and research very much guiding us at every stage of the journey. For example, I was delighted recently to see pupils from Darwen Vale High School and Darwen Aldridge Community Academy researching the town’s role in the First World War at the Lancashire Infantry Museum in Fulwood Barracks, Preston as part of their involvement in the project. Bridging the generations is fundamental to this project, and this was a fine example of how that aim is being achieved.
The project is supported by a cross section of people, including the Lord Lieutenant, Lord Shuttleworth, and engagement with the Heritage Lottery Fund is ongoing. We have a number of organisations providing their services for free, including WCP Associates of Bury who are acting as our project manager and quantity surveyor, and Planit IE of Altrincham who have produced an excellent concept. Blackburn with Darwen Council have been especially supportive. We therefore look forward to undertaking public consultation on our proposals, before making firmer recommendations to the HLF.
With a fair wind we can be confident of delivering the project in 2015
Col. Steve Davies MBE, FODC President
Our first choice for our tribute to our First World War was on the site of the Church of England Chapel (number 1 on the above map) however it was changed to the site of the Non Conformist Chapel (number 2 on the above map) as its higher position over the Cemetery would give the structure a much larger presence.
April 2015 – Our Official Launch
On Wednesday 15th April FODC held it’s official launch of the bid for Lottery cash to commemorate the contribution
of Darwen’s soldiers of the First World War at Darwen Library.
The exhibition shows the blueprint for our grave trail and the plans for the
mock trench on the site of the Non Conformist Chapel in the Western
Cemetery, we would also like your to know your thoughts on our ambitious
plans and have facilities for you to have your say during the exhibition period.
The exhibition was opened by our FODC president, Colonel Steve Davies and
will run for a month.
Steve who was born in Darwen and later became commanding officer of
1st Battalion, The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, wants as many townspeople
as possible to attend the exhibition to boost our chances of winning £100,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the project.Our scheme’s centerpiece will be a large granite mock trench, complete with firing step which can be used as a bench for quiet reflection, overlooking the town.
The sides of the mock trench will have granite plaques to commemorate
individual soldiers. Schools and community groups will use the mock trench as
an outdoor activity and learning space.
January 2018 – Plan B
Unfortunately the Lottery Fund declined our bid due to the cost of construction. So the Friends had a complete rethink and designed a smaller structure on a different site within the cemetery.
The site of a former work mans cabin was chosen and cleared of Rhododendrons and other invasive trees.
The start of our World War One Memorial
June 2018 – Sneak Preview
Some Sneak Photos of the WW1 Wall
July 2018 – World War One Memorial Unveiling Ceremony
On Sunday, 1st July, in glorious sunshine, the Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, The Lord Shuttleworth, dedicated our new World War One monument. The Cemetery was looking at its best after hours of hard work spent sprucing up the paths and flower beds by our dedicated team of volunteers.
Chairman John East opened the proceedings. He pointed out that it was Somme Day, and that at the battle of the Somme on this day in 1916,
Lt Ashton was killed in the first minutes of the offensive.
Lt Ashton is of course commemorated on the Ashton memorial.
Tony Foster told the story of Private Squire Haworth, who saw action at the second battle of Ypres, but who was discharged when found to be suffering from diabetes. He died from a diabetic coma back in Darwen. Tony hopes that he will be eligible for a Commonwealth War Grave.
Our President, Colonel Steve Davies used his speech to thank the many individuals who had made important contributions which enabled the wall to be built. He then invited the Lord Lieutenant to formally dedicate the monument.
After the dedication and the unveiling, the Lord Lieutenant laid a wreath to the fallen.
The Reverend Terry Young then blessed the wall and prayed for the Armed Forces both now and in the past. We then sang the hymn, “Oh valiant hearts” ably led by the Walk This Way choir and accompanied by the Balderstones Brass Band.
This was followed by the Last Post, the Two Minutes Silence and the Reveille.
Col. Davies declared that this was the last official duty of John East as Chairman of the Friends and asked for a rousing round of applause for the retiring Chairman.
John East closed the proceedings by announcing that refreshments would be served in the Rose Garden in Whitehall Park.
Unless already advised all the Photographs have been taken
by Roy Cox and Alan Walton
July 2018 – The BBC attend our World War One Memorial Unveiling Ceremony
Our opening ceremony was filmed for BBC North West Tonight’s Local News Program and the reporter was Naomi Cornwell
The opening ceremony appeared on BBC North West Tonight later the same day on both the evening and late bulletins
2018 World War One Memorial Wall Unveiling as shown on BBC North West July 2018
If you would like to buy a copy of the Booklet that accompanied the opening ceremony
click on the link below