EXNING ROAD MEMORIAL
Dedication Ceremony Sunday 16th April 1950
The opening ceremony was carried out by Mr George H. Goult
History of the Exning Road Memorial Garden
( as gleaned from reports in the Newmarket Journal of the time)
Newmarket Journal 9th March 1946 reporting Exning Road Working Mens Club AGM
“Flourishing Reports at Club Annual Meeting”
The suggestion of a war memorial in the Exning Road district met with prompt approval when mooted at the annual meeting of the Exning Road Working Mens Club held on Thursday. The outcome was to call a public meeting to launch a fund on similar lines to the recent welcome home fund. The matter was raised by Mr. G.H. Goult (Vice-Chairman), who recalled that at the last annual meeting he suggested the welcome home fund.. They knew how successful it had been and if they saw the number of letters from the recipients they would be more than pleased. In Memory of the Boys “ We have seen after the boys who are coming back,” he added, “and now we should try and get £300 or £400 in memory of those boys who will not come back”. He did not believe in monuments of stone, which were more or less a waste of money, but such a memorial as a shelter for 15 to 20 people in some chosen spot would be a treat for the old people. In the shelter could be a stone or metal plate with the names of the boys who had fallen. They could adopt the same procedure as with the welcome home fund by calling a public meeting and appointing a committee. “I think a memorial of some sort should be put up to the boys of the ‘Road’ ”,went on Mr Goult.”It appears at the moment that no effort is to be made by the town as a whole to put up a memorial or provide a park. Exning Road should do as it did with the welcome home fund and set an example to the town.
Capt. R.H. King ( a Vice President) said he was delighted that Mr Goult was opposed to the inanimate stone type of memorial which was prevalent after the last war, and which was of no use to anyone. Where time and money had been expended it would be better to have something of use. He would like to start off the subscription list with a donation of £10 10s. He knew most of the boys who had left them and admired them. The least they could do was to remember them in a fitting manner. On the motion of Mr. E. Elmer, seconded by Mr. Count, it was agreed to call a public meeting.
Newmarket Journal 27th April 1946
Severals Scheme will go by the Board, Exning Road aims at £750 for own Memorial
A bombshell to any hopes of the Severals being converted into a public park as a war memorial was flung by Councillor G.H. Goult when speaking at a public meeting to consider a memorial for Exning Road district, held at St. Philips Hall on Thursday evening. The meeting adopted a proposal to build a shelter, possibly with a small garden in front, and a target of £750 was fixed. Mr Goult presided, supported by Mr. A.Prigg (hon.sec.) and Mr C.C. Griffiths (hon. treasurer). It was announced that the following had been co-opted on to the Committee: Mrs Elmer, Miss Petch, Mrs Voss, Miss Jessop, Messsrs B.Blades,W. Fearn, W.Hallan, A.Clarke, J.Burrell and F.Burch.
A Public Shelter
The Chairman said a committee meeting had been held and decided to recommend to the public meeting that the memorial should be a suitably constructed shelter with a tablet containing the names of the Exning Road boys who lost their lives in the war. After the meeting he received a letter from Mr. L. Crowfoot, the architect, offering his services free of charge. He accordingly contacted Mr. Crowfoot and asked him to prepare two drawings in order that they should have some idea of what could be done. In addition he had had a design from Mr Suttle for a garden of remembrance. It was an excellent and dignified design but he was afraid it would take too much frontage.
It might be that the memorial could take the form of a shelter with a small garden in front. The question of the site would not trouble them as a piece of land had been offered. The ultimate design would depend on the money they raised. Mr.Prigg said that the final decision would have to wait, but would not take very long when they knew the size of the fund. Mr. F. Petch proposed that they should have a shelter for the old people and if possible a garden in front, the details to be left to a later date when they knew the amount of money received. It was agreed.
It was decided to fix a target to be exceeded if possible. A suggestion was made that voluntary labour might be available in helping with the erection of the shelter. The figure of £750 was adopted as the target. The Chairman announced that the Exning Road Club had voted £50 towards the memorial
“ I am afraid the original suggestion of the Severals scheme will go by the board” he said. “It would have been the finest memorial was could have had but from my view of the situation and the constitution of the local Council, I do not think we have much chance of getting any portion of the Severals. The only thing is to concentrate on this district and so have the satisfaction of knowing that even if there is not a memorial for the town, there is one for the boys of Exning Road. I hope we will do everything we can to get as much money as possible and have something dignified and worthy of the boys who lost their lives.” In reply to a question as to whether the memorial would also concern those residents who lost their lives in the air raid, the Chairman said their names could be added on the tablet
Nearly 3 years later
At the Annual Dinner of the Exning Road Working Mens Club on January 21st 1949 hopes were expressed that a suitable Memorial to those residents of the Exning Road area of Newmarket might be erected within 12 months, so little seemingly being done regarding a Town War Memorial. The project started in February 1949, a piece of land, part of the gardeners cottage belonging to the White Lodge Hospital being given for the garden, thanks to the efforts of Capt King and the Hospital Management Committee. By this time the subscriptions towards the provision of a Memorial for the whole town had amassed the paltry sum of £600.
Designed by Mr F.B. Waterfall and his staff, there are no records at present to identify the builders.
The memorial was dedicated in St Philips Church on Sunday 16th April 1950, the plaque being unveiled later that afternoon.
Garden of Rest as War Memorial
Exning Road Residents Honour The Fallen
A LARGE gathering stood in silence as Mr. George H.Goult on Sunday afternoon, unveiled a tablet in the garden of rest erected by the residents of Exning Road area in memory of those from that district who lost their lives in the war. The garden of rest, a small but attractively designed structure, is a worthy memorial to those who fell and its inauguration and completion an illustration in itself of the ‘family’ atmosphere which exists in that area. The thoroughness and enthusiasm displayed in the preparations was also evident in the arrangements made for the dedication and unveiling ceremonies, both of which brought most fittingly to a close a noteworthy phase in local activities. The little church of St. Philips was full when the dedication service, conducted by the Rev.C.S.Scott, began. The service included the hymns, ‘O God, our help on ages past”, “Lead us Heavenly Father” and “Oh Valiant Hearts”, with Miss Reed at the organ. The lesson was read by the Rev.A.D.Mackenzie.
At the memorial the Last Post and Reveille were sounded by two buglers and the ceremony brought to a close with the singing of “Abide With Me”. Before unveiling the tablet, the gathering heard the well known words of Laurence Binion uttered by Mr. Goult.
They shall not grow old as we that are left grow oldA very touching moment was when Mr. Goult, himself losing his son, Pilot Officer George William Goult D.F.M. in the war, read through the names inscribed on the memorial.
Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn:
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
In his address in the church, the Rev. C.S. Scott referred to the character of the memorial. It was not a massive structure, but it was a useful and fitting memorial to people who were known to all the residents of the particular area. Sometimes, he said, a memorial impressed one by its simplicity or grandeur and was taken as a reminder of the war, there being a tendency to forget the individual. There could be nothing of that kind in connection with the Exning Road Memorial, as it was something intensely personal in that area. In some ways, it stood for something badly needed in the world today-to get away from masses, machinery and impersonal things. It brought them back to individuals, who had given of their best and surely it should be as individuals that people should be inspired by their example also to do their best in times of so called peace.
NOT JUDGE ON PEACETIME STANDARDS
Looking at the country today, and considering the dark pictures drawn by some people, we might feel depressed, he said. We were being told that there was too much greed and all kinds of slackness and a new word has been introduced since the war- ‘spiv’. The people they were commemorating that day would make no claim to be outstanding, but when the emergency came they rose above themselves and did noble deeds. Everybody recognised that if the spirit which motivated could come into force today, it would be much better for the country and the world.. It was surprising to what degree of heroism, service and sacrifice people rise. And so the memorial reminded them that they could not judge people only by what happened in times of peace, as we had seen what they were capable of in times of stress.
IN DEFENCE OF FREEDOM
Before performing the unveiling ceremony, Mr. Goult addressed the large gathering He considered it a great honour to unveil a memorial to those who had made the great sacrifice in defence of our freedom, and also to the civilians who so unfortunately lost their lives when the town was bombed on the 18th February 1941. “As we gather today our minds go back to the days when these boys went forward in the strength of their young manhood to play a part in our defence, so that we might live as free men and not under the heel of a conqueror”. He went on, “Victory was won but at a terrible price, but the greatest tribute to their memory was to carry out the principles for which they died – service to the community, and live together in a spirit of comradeship, setting aside greed and selfish motives and make this country a place fit to live in and worth the sacrifice”
The futility of war had been realised by those who had seen two major wars. We must see to it that no blundering politician of any party allowed the tragedy to happen again. Those bereaved must put away sadness, he said, and feel, as those they remembered would feel, the pride of a job well done and a victory won, whatever the cost” Mt Goult brought the ceremony to a close with an expression of thanks to Mr. R.Hammond for his great assistance and encouragement: Capt. King and the Hospital Management committee for the land; Mr. F.B. Waterfall and his staff for designing the memorial; The Urban District Council for help in various matters; Mr. Arthur Prigg (Secretary) and Mr.C.C. Griffths (Treasurer), members of the committee and all those who had subscribed towards it or helped in any way. The cost had been defrayed, but they might have to ask for sundry funds for its upkeep. He asked all to ensure that the memorial was kept as a garden of rest and in a manner befitting a memorial.
The rest as they say, is history. Gradually folk did forget, gradually the shelter deteriorated, graffiti artists struck. In 1996 it was mooted in Council that it may have to be removed. The plaque had already been removed to the safety of the Exning Road Working Mens Club, which unfortunately seems to mean that officialdom did not now have to regard the shelter and garden as a memorial . The Council gave themselves authority to sell the land, until they realised no one appeared to have the deeds and therefore ownership could not be established. Then in 2008 a property developer used a quaint English law and took “adverse possession” of it. By fencing it off and acting as if it was actually in his ownership, after 10 years he could apply for and be given total ownership of the land. That is unless the deeds can be found and the proper ownership established, within 12 years of the adverse possession. Demolishing the shelter and gate were apparently quite legal. By way of some recompense the developer did provide the small stone plaque outside the Club, the original wooden plaque remaining within the building. So the whole original concept was shot to pieces, all that remains is a piece of stone on the wall, no garden, no shelter, nothing of use to anyone. So much for Remembrance!
Whoever would have thought it necessary to preserve deeds to a war memorial? Unfortunately no-one in the days immediately following the war did so, After all no –one would ever take a memorial and knock it down to build over it, would they ? It only took 50 years to forget why the memorial garden was there, the principle of why it was there in the first place. No one is blameless, residents could have done more to have maintained the memorial, the Council could have taken it on, and the developer could have incorporated into the housing scheme he built next door. At least let us not forget those whose names appear on the plaque, it is quite possible in these still troubled times that some of us may one day have a loved one’s name engraved on a memorial plaque such as this. Human nature being what it is, this threat unfortunately will always be with us.
Each of the names on this plaque are covered by their own page on this website
with the exception of Sidney Roys who is remembered on the Exning Memorial and a family grave
Original plaque that was in the shelter, now inside the Club
Replacement plaque supplied by the developer, and fixed to the outside wall of the Club