Thornton War Memorial


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Thornton Cemetery, Thornton Road, Thornton, Bradford, BD13 3QB


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Statutory Address:
Thornton Cemetery, Thornton Road, Thornton, Bradford, BD13 3QB

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Bradford (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


First World War memorial, 1922, by Harold Brownsword, with additions for later conflicts.

Reasons for Designation

Thornton War Memorial, which stands in Thornton Cemetery, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Historic interest: as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on this local community, and the sacrifice it has made in the conflicts of the C20; * Architectural interest: the substantial Yorkshire stone structure is the perfect foil to the sculptural elements; * Sculptural interest: for the well-sculpted life-sized figure of Sorrowing Victory by Harold Brownsword ARCA.


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: therefore the memorials provided the main focus of the grief felt at this great loss. One such memorial was raised at Thornton as a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by 144 members of the local community who lost their lives in the First World War.

The memorial was designed by Harold Brownsword, whilst the foundry of AB Burton cast the figure of Sorrowing Victory. It was unveiled at what local press reported as an impressive ceremony in the presence of thousands of people, held on 30 September 1922. A ceremonial procession marched the congregation of local dignitaries and business representatives, and a large contingent of school children (some the children of men who had died), from the Mechanics' Institute to the cemetery. The column was headed by c100 ex-servicemen and the Bradford City Police Band, along with the drum and bugle band of the Thornton Church Lads’ Brigade. The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Thomas Blythe, presided and Mr Alfred Farrar, chairman of the Memorial Committee, unveiled the monument: the dedicatory prayer was offered by the vicar, Reverend AH Tollit.

The Mayor spoke of his hope that never again would it be necessary to commemorate the sacrifices of men called away from their homes, friends and neighbours ‘to engage in what may be pronounced as absolute barbarism’. The memorial was decorated with scores of wreaths at the base immediately after the ceremony.

The memorial was rededicated on 20 May 1951 at a ceremony again attended by local clergy and dignitaries, to mark the addition of 33 names of men who had died during the Second World War. One further name was inscribed following the Suez crisis (1951-1956).

Henry Brownsword ARCA (1885-1961) was a sculptor and teacher whose war memorials included those at Hanley and Allerton (both Grade II-listed), Eccleshill and Longton. He had studied sculpture at Hanley School of Art and the Royal College of Art. From c1916 he taught at the Regent Street Polytechnic, and was Principal there between 1938 and 1950.


The memorial stands at the southern side of Thornton Cemetery. It comprises a large pylon of Yorkshire stone, c3.5m tall, surmounted by a bronze figure of Sorrowing Victory with head bowed and arms outstretched, holding wreaths in each hand. The pylon stands on a large stone base.

The principal dedicatory inscription to the south face of the pylon reads IN MEMORY/ OF OUR/ HEROIC DEAD/ 1914/ 1918. Below this on the base the inscription continues ERECTED BY/ THE PEOPLE OF THORNTON/ UNVEILED AND DEDICATED/ SEPTEMBER 30TH 1922.

The east and west sides of the pylon are stepped forward in the form of a broad Latin cross. To the west a bronze wreath encircles the date 1914, with a rectangular bronze panel below listing commemorated names. A bronze panel to the rear of the pylon, and a small bronze panel on the rear of the base, list more commemorated names. To the east, a precisely similar wreath encircles the date 1918 with another bronze name panel below. On the east face of the base the later dedication reads THE SECOND WORLD/ 1939 1945 with a central panel listing commemorated names.

The memorial is enclosed by a low octagonal kerb defining a flower bed.

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, 4 October 2017.


Books and journals
Boorman, D, A Century of Remembrance: One Hundred Outstanding British War Memorials, (2005)
'Harold Brownsword ARCA', Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII [online database 2011], accessed 13/09/2016 from
War Memorials Online, accessed 4 October 2017 from
War Memorials Register, accessed 13/09/2016 from
The Bradford Daily Telegraph, 2 October 1922


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

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