A substantial First World War civic memorial, 1922, with post-Second World War alteration, by the City Architect Walter Williamson, sculpture by HH Martyn and Co Ltd.
Reasons for Designation
Bradford War Memorial on Prince’s Way, Bradford, is listed at Grade II for the following principle reasons:
* Historic interest: 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;
* Architectural interest: an unusual and successful design; the architecture is not overwhelmed by the carved detail and its relative stability is a foil to the dynamic figures of servicemen.
* Sculptural interest: the life-sized figures of a soldier and sailor advancing are by HH Martyn and Co Ltd, foremost bronze foundry noted for the range of its First World War commemorative work;
* Group value: with the Grade II-listed Queen Victoria Memorial of 1904, sculpted by Alfred Drury, architect J W Simpson, which it reflects in silhouette.
The memorial by the City Architect, Walter Williamson LRIBA, with sculpture by HH Martyn and Co Ltd, was unveiled by Lt-Col Alderman Anthony Gadie on 1 July 1922, the sixth anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Some 40,000 people attended the ecumenical ceremony. The Vicar of Bradford, Archdeacon W Stanton Jones, dedicated the memorial. Many wreaths were laid, including a large cross in the regimental colours from the survivors of the Bradford Pals. The aggressive stance of the figures of a soldier and sailor were controversial from the beginning and when, in 1969, the bayonet blades were damaged, they were removed.
The two battalions of the Prince of Wales’s Own (West Yorkshire Regiment), raised in Bradford in September 1914 (16th West Yorkshire, 1st Bradford Pals) and January 1915 (18th West Yorkshire, 2nd Bradford Pals) were ‘pals battalions’, comprised of men who had enlisted together with the promise that they would be able to serve alongside their friends, neighbours and work colleagues (‘pals’), rather than being arbitrarily allocated to battalions. These were two of 96 Pals and City battalions, units raised by private bodies and local authorities that provided the necessary clothing, billeting and food whilst the army provided weapons and training.
Having served in the defence of the Suez Canal from late-1915, 16th and 18th West Yorkshire battalions sailed for France to fight in the Somme campaign as part of 93 Brigade in 31st Division. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916, some 2,000 men of the Bradford Pals battalions were involved in the attack on Serre, launched at 7.30am.
The British heavy artillery bombardment of German lines at this location prior to the battle had not been successful: the German batteries, field guns, and machine gun crews were able to sustain a heavy and accurate barrage of the British front trench. Only a few isolated parties of 31st Division were able to reach the German front line in the face of this withering onslaught. The two Bradford Pals battalions, attacking Pendant Copse, suffered heavy casualties with c1,770 killed or wounded. The re-formed battalions continued serving in France, being disbanded in February 1918.
In all, nearly 37,000 Bradford men served in the First World War in all theatres, of whom c5,000 were killed. A high proportion of these casualties were suffered by the city's two Pals battalions during the Battle of the Somme.
The memorial’s sculpted figures can plausibly be attributed to Robert Lindsey Clark (1864-1926), who was born in Worcester, the son of an ironmonger. He joined HH Martyn and Co Ltd as an apprentice sculptor and studied at the South London School of Art. He was head sculptor at HH Martyn from c1905 until his death. The bronze plaque on the front was added in 1969 to incorporate references to the Second World War and has since been updated to commemorate later conflicts.
Walter Williamson (b1857) was articled to William Bell of Manchester in 1882. He studied at Manchester Municipal School of Art and worked in the Bradford Corporation Architects' Department from 1900.
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, a number of which are listed.
The memorial stands on a raised oval platform at the junction of Prince’s Way and Morley Street, in front of the Grade II-listed statue of Queen Victoria. It comprises a tapering panelled Bolton Wood stone pylon surmounted by a sarcophagus. The pylon stands on a stepped base with semi-circular ends which support bronze figures of a soldier (to the left) and a sailor (to the right) advancing with fixed bayonets, the blades of which have been removed though the hilts remain.
On the top of the pylon, carved in relief to front and rear, are plain Latin crosses whose downward tapering shafts are transformed into sheathed swords as they pass through wreaths. The wreath to the front encloses a scroll inscribed PRO/ PATRIA/ MORI. To the rear, the wreath encloses the city arms. On the sides, where the pylon meets the sarcophagus, are winged wreaths enclosing RAF. The top of the pylon dies back to the sarcophagus, which is clasped to the front and rear by the cross heads.
The bronze plaque over the position of the original, incised, inscription commemorates the dead of both World Wars. The dedicatory inscription reads TO THE IMMORTAL HONOUR OF/ THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE/ CITY OF BRADFORD/ WHO SERVED THEIR KING AND EMPIRE/ 1914 – 1918 1939 – 1945/ AND IN OTHER CONFLICT/ IN PROUD AND/ GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE. Below on the front face of the base is incised THEIR NAME LIVETH/ FOR EVERMORE.
The memorial stands on paved platform in front of a low curved screen wall with terminal blocks decorated with wreathed swords. Curved steps with terminal blocks form the approach in front with straight steps to the right rising from Morley Street. The two front-facing blocks bear small bronze plaques.
This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Online. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 31 January 2017.