Pride has been restored to Wigan’s memorial to those who fell during The Great War.
Two specially commissioned plaques bearing the names of those local soldiers who died during the 1914 to 1918 war and other conflicts, were stolen from the war memorial at Wigan Parish Church just prior to 2006’s Remembrance Day. The plaques were never recovered.
However, thanks to the hard work of Wigan’s Cemetery Services Team, the bronze plaques have now been replaced at a cost of £2,500 in time for this year’s Remembrance Day. Restoring the plaques was a delicate and time-consuming operation due to the memorial being a grade two star listed monument.
Wigan’s war memorial was originally unveiled in October 1925 and was designed by the architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott; the same man who designed Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral. The monument was originally paid for entirely out of public subscription, but this time the plaques were restored thanks to Wigan Council.
John Bolton and Eric Arkwright from Wigan’s Combined Ex-Services Committee joined the Rector of Wigan Ray Hutchinson and Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust’s Cemetery Services Manager Tony Bassett to inspect the newly restored plaques today.
Tony Bassett said:
“We are very pleased to have completed the restoration in time for this year’s Remembrance Day services. We were hopeful that the original plaques may have been found however that now seems very unlikely. I would like to thank the council for their contribution, NPS for their hard work and the ex-serviceman’s committee for their patience.
“It has been a painstaking task to ensure all of the information was correctly restored and that the correct type of plaque was used. The people who stole these plaques should be ashamed, but it is great to see the memorial returned to its previous condition.”
John Bolton, Chair of the Wigan Ex-serviceman’s Committee served with the grenadier guards in Africa, Italy and Germany between 1942 and 1945. He said:
“I come round most days and check the memorial. All the lads on here are buried in war graves across the world for many of us this is the only place we can remember them because we can’t afford to bring their bodies back.
“They deserve to be remembered and recognised for what they did for their country. It was a despicable act stealing the plaques but I’d like to thank the council, leisure trust and Tony Bassett for all they have done.”
For further information contact Tony Bassett, Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust’s Cemetery Services Manager on 01942 828855.