Stourbridge War Memorial
Heritage Category: Listed Building
List Entry Number: 1116647
Date first listed: 30-Oct-1989
Date of most recent amendment: 18-Oct-2017
Statutory Address: Mary Stevens Park, Heath Lane, Stourbridge, Dudley, DY8 2AB
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Statutory Address: Mary Stevens Park, Heath Lane, Stourbridge, Dudley, DY8 2AB
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Dudley (Metropolitan Authority)
Parish: Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference: SO8985083533
First World War memorial, unveiled 1923, designed by E W Pickford with sculpture by John Cassidy RBS. Additions for later conflicts.
Reasons for Designation
Stourbridge War Memorial, standing in Mary Stevens Park, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* As an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on this community, and the sacrifices it made in the conflicts of the C20.
* Designed by Ernest W Pickford of the Bromsgrove Guild, it is a sophisticated Classical cenotaph designed and well-proportioned to take decorative bronze reliefs, as well as a surmounting bronze figure;
* Including an unusual kneeling figure of Victorious Peace by John Cassidy, noted modeler responsible for a number of listed war memorials, and two fine bronze reliefs depicting military scenes with great detail. The memorial is further embellished by accomplished trophy designs by Ernest Pickford of the Bromsgrove Guild.
* With Mary Stevens Park’s Gates, Piers and Railings at the Principal Entrance (Grade II listed).
The aftermath of the First World War saw the biggest single wave of public commemoration ever with tens of thousands of memorials erected across England. This was the result of both the huge impact on communities of the loss of three quarters of a million British lives, and also the official policy of not repatriating the dead which meant that the memorials provided the main focus of the grief felt at this great loss. A number of memorials were raised at Stourbridge as a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by the members of the local community who lost their lives in the First World War.
The Borough’s war memorial committee, convened in 1919, debated a variety of proposals for the town’s memorial scheme. More than £8,000 was raised by public subscription which enabled a cenotaph to be built in Stourbridge Cemetery (commemorating all casualties of the war, designed by Ernest W Pickford, unlisted); the purchase in 1923 of a sports ground and club house at Amblecote; and the town centre memorial designed to commemorate specifically the 377 dead of the Borough.
The town memorial, like the cenotaph, was also designed by Pickford. The sculptural elements, including the figure of Victorious Peace and the panel reliefs, were by John Cassidy RBS. HH Martyn and Co Ltd and The Bromsgrove Guild provided the castings, and the whole was built by local building firm George Brown and Sons. The memorial was unveiled on 25 February 1923 by the Earl of Coventry at its original location, in the junction of Church Street and Hagley Road, outside the Free Library and at the southern end of the High Street.
Following the Second World War, in 1947 a further 135 names were added to the memorial to commemorate those who had died in that conflict. The memorial was moved to Mary Stevens Park in 1968 to enable a new road scheme in the town centre. The park had been a gift by local benefactor, Ernest Stevens, who was heavily involved in the establishment of the memorial sports ground and also the Quarry Bank Memorial and Park in Dudley (Quarry Bank Peace Memorial and Garden, Grade II listed).
A plaque was added to the memorial in 2011, commemorating a local soldier who had died in the First Gulf War, and in 2014 the name of one further First World War soldier was added. The memorial was re-dedicated in 2015 following restoration works in the Park. Two Victoria Cross memorial stones were added to the surrounding landscaping in 2017.
Ernest W Pickford (1880 -1944) was born in Manchester. He trained at the Manchester School of Art, where he specialised in architectural design and metalwork, after which he joined Messrs Hill and Smith Ltd of Brierley Hill. He then moved to the Bromsgrove Guild. He was a co-opted member of the Stourbridge War Memorial Committee. During the Second World War he worked at the Mirrlees, Bickerton and Day factory (Hazel Grove) which produced engines and generators for the war effort.
John Cassidy RBS (1860-1939) was born in Ireland and studied at Dublin and, from 1883, Manchester School of Art, where he was a prolific and successful modeler. He began to sculpt professionally in 1887. Before the First World War he produced many commissions for busts, statues and tablets in and around Manchester (where he had set up his studio) as well as further afield, including at London, Aberdeen and Belfast. He exhibited nationally, including at the Royal Academy and at least once in Paris. He received fewer commissions during the First World War, but prospered by the many commissions he received following it. These included war memorial such as Eccles (Grade II), Clayton le Moors (Grade II), Heaton Moor (Grade II), Irlam and Cadishead, Lower Peover, Skipton (Grade II), and Colwyn Bay (in Wales).
The Bromsgrove Guild (1898-1966), well known for Arts and Crafts designs in a number of media including iron work, stained glass, plasterwork and garden statuary, was founded in 1898. Its origins lay in the Bromsgrove School of Art. Members of the Guild worked from workshops around the country, whilst the central premises in Bromsgrove housed the main metalworking department. Amongst their more prominent commissions were the wrought-iron gates of Buckingham Palace (Grade I) and the Liver birds of the Royal Liver Assurance Building (Grade I) in Liverpool. Following the First World War the Guild was responsible for designing and producing many war memorials.
Messrs HH Martyn and Company of Cheltenham (active 1888-1971) specialised in the design and production of sculptures and ecclesiastical furnishings. A prolific and important firm, during the First World War the works were turned over to aircraft manufacture. By 1920 the company employed more than 1000 workers at its Sunningend Works and in the aftermath of the First World War it designed, or contributed to the design of, many war memorials.
First World War memorial, 1923, with later additions.
MATERIALS: granite, Darley Dale stone, bronze.
DESCRIPTION: the Classical memorial stands in Mary Stevens Park, to the south of the Grade II-listed north gates. It takes the form of a tall pier rising from a base, and is surmounted by an allegorical female figure, Victorious Peace, with name plaques and sculpted panels to the sides.
The three-stepped granite platform supports the Darley Dale stone base and pier. The north and south faces of the pier are clasped by pilasters that terminate below the pier’s cap, ornamented with a Greek key design below their capitals. Bronze lion’s heads look out from either side, over each pilaster. The staged and moulded cap of the pier supports the bronze of Victorious Peace: kneeling on one knee and leaning forward, she holds out a wreath in her right hand whilst supporting herself on the pole of a partly-furled flag, held in her left hand. John Cassidy’s signature, with the date 1922, is inscribed in the statue base to the front.
The main bronze panel to the front face of the pier is headed by a laurel wreath encircling the badge of the Worcestershire Regiment. The principal dedicatory inscription below reads: IN/ GRATEFUL MEMORY/ OF THE MEN OF/ STOURBRIDGE WHO/ GAVE THEIR LIVES/ IN THE GREAT WAR/ 1914 - 1918/ (NAMES). At the foot of this panel, a low relief bronze depicting a plumed helmet, fasces, and a wreath of stylised palm leaves, marks the transition from base to pier. A similar panel and bronze reliefs on the rear of the pier includes further names listed under the dates 1914 – 1918.
The north-facing pilaster and the north face of the base carry bronze plaques with inscriptions including commemorated names and the record: THIS MEMORIAL WAS ERECTED BY PUBLIC/ SUBSCRIPTION TO COMMEMORATE THE/ HEROISM OF THE MEN OF THIS BOROUGH/ & WAS UNVEILED BY THE RIGHT HON./ THE EARL OF COVENTRY FEB. 25TH 1923. The south-facing pilaster and south face of the base carry similar plaques including further names and the inscription: THESE MEN FOUGHT AND DIED/ IN MANY LANDS AND SEAS./ FRANCE BELGIUM ITALY RUSSIA/ GREECE TURKEY MESOPOTAMIA/ PALESTINE THE NORTH SEA. The later plaque recording the Iraq war casualty is also fixed to the south face of the base.
Two rectangular bronze reliefs on the middle stage of the base depict detailed military scenes. These include, on the panel to the front: marching infantrymen; two soldiers carrying what might be communications equipment; a team apparently equipped to lay out barbed wire with a maul and roll of wire; a dispatch rider riding a motorcycle; with a tank behind the column of men. The rear panel shows sailors at work on board ship, including: a boy carrying a bucket; men moving shells; an officer looking out through binoculars; a gun team loading shells for a deck gun; and two men using ropes and tackle.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 442958
Legacy System: LBS
Imperial War Museum Database, accessed 13 October 2017 from http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/2135
John Cassidy website, accessed 14 August 2017 from http://www.johncassidy.org.uk/stourbridge.html
The Black Country Bugle (29 December 2005), accessed 14 August 2017 from http://www.blackcountrybugle.co.uk/historical-society-remembers-fallen-soldiers-stourbridge/story-20137810-detail/story.html
War Memorials Online, accessed 13 October 2017 from https://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/230627/
'Bromsgrove Guild', Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011 [http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/organization.php?id=msib4_1241533221, accessed 14 Aug 2017]
'H. H. Martyn & Co.', Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011 [http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/organization.php?id=msib6_1232025346, accessed 14 Aug 2017]
This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
End of official listing