The Centenary of the Isleworth War Memorial 1922-2022
Download the Commemorative Booklet
An informative booklet was put together to celebrate the centenary of the building of the Isleworth War Memorial 1922-2022.
Please feel free to download it and read it at your leisure.
The unveiling ceremony took place on 22 June 1922. Dignitaries present included the Duke of Northumberland, Sir William Joynson-Hicks MP, and members of the County Council, Board of Guardians and District Council.
The Planning of the Memorial
At the beginning of the war, it had been decided that the bodies of those who died would not be sent home, something which bereaved families found very hard to deal with. The creation of the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior recognised the sacrifice made by the whole country, but the Isleworth men who died were not unknown warriors. They were fathers and sons and brothers, husbands and sweethearts and colleagues and there was a desire to commemorate them. Schools, churches and businesses created their own Rolls of Honour remember the pupils, parishioners and employees who had died, but there remained some who did not fit into any of these categories. The community began to plan a memorial to ensure that no-one was forgotten. Rather, as in the 21st century, The Royal British Legion and Commonwealth War Graves Commission created the Everyone Remembered initiative. There are no surviving records of the Committee and we have been largely dependent upon newspaper reports for information about the planning of Isleworth’s Memorial. We know that the first meeting to discuss the Isleworth memorial was held on Monday 12 January 1920, the Chairman was F Nowell, the Secretary was John Weathers and the Treasurer was P Murphy. And we know that the first meeting was not an easy one. Fewer people attended than the committee had hoped and several potential contributors had already subscribed to other schemes. The firm of A. and F. Pears had subscribed to the Hounslow Hospital scheme and felt that was enough, while individuals had already contributed to school or church memorials. And Isleworth was already behind in the memorial “race”; Heston’s memorial had been formally unveiled in May 1918. John Weathers started the contributions by promising £5 in memory of his son John lost at the Battle of Jutland. Messrs Mann promised the sum of 20 guineas. And so the work began of collecting for the memorial. Bazaars, concerts, dances, whist drives, sales of work, flag days – all the methods that had been used to collect funds during the war to provide comforts for the troops were brought back into play now. Individual donations added to the Committee’s coffers. By February, the Committee had decided on the site. Original suggestions had included a piece of land in front of Spring Grove House, but the final site chosen was the Mount in Isleworth at the junction of South Street and the Twickenham Road. It would involve removing the Fire Station that currently stood there; the removal was already planned but the Committee still had to negotiate with Heston and Isleworth Council over the granting of the site for a war memorial. And the design of the memorial was to be decided. The preferred option was a clock tower. Executed in Portland stone, the estimated cost would be about £1,600. The fund had only received around £400, and subscriptions were slow to come in. At a meeting on 9th June 1920 the Treasurer caustically remarked that at the current rate of progress, some of the committee might not live to see the work completed.
However by 1921, the site had been secured, while choosing a cheaper material had brought the cost of the memorial down to about £850. The fund was still about £350 short so fund-raising efforts were redoubled. A postcard illustrating the chosen design was produced for sale at 3d each.
By February 1922, the contract for the erection of the memorial had been awarded and the committee was confident of being able to raise the final amount needed. In the same month, the Middlesex Independent, on behalf of the Secretary of the Committee, published a list of 390 names that were due to be inscribed on the memorial and asked for additions and corrections. There are no surviving records of how the names were gathered or if details had been checked. The list was later found to be not complete or wholly accurate, but time was of the essence as the engraving work was about to start. The Memorial, designed by Mr A P Green and built by Keates and Company of Hampton, was dedicated on Thursday 22 June 1922 at 7pm.
The centennial event was on 26 June 2022.
A procession gathered on Isleworth Village Green (next to Lower Square) and made its way along South Street to Memorial Square, led by a piper with ex Service men, local dignitaries, members of the Royal British Legion (Isleworth branch), 3rd Osterley Scouts, the St John Ambulance, schoolchildren wearing white sashes with the names of some of the 390 servicemen who were killed in the First World War and members of the community. Two fire engines were in attendance.
The service was led by Rev. David Maclure, assisted by the Bishop of Kensington. Local schoolchildren and a grandson of one of the 390 servicemen, unveiled the restored Memorial. After the ceremony, the community made its way through the playgrounds of St Mary’s RC Primary School and the Blue School to the Blue School main hall for a further community event. After speeches from Paul Kennerley, the Retired Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Greater London (Hounslow), and Fred Grimes, the Greater London Chairman of the Royal British Legion, and a message from Ruth Cadbury MP, read by Isleworth Councillor John Stroud- Turp, there were readings from local school children from the 390 book. Performances from the Isleworth Town School Choir and recorder group brought the formal part of the event to a close.
Tea was served in the Blue School New Hall and also St Bridget’s Church Hall. Special ceremonial cakes were cut and viewings were arranged of Ralph McTell’s ‘the Unknown Soldier’ video and the 2018 Armistice Day commemoration, organised by Isleworth 390.
Copies of the commemorative programme were available for all who attended the event on 26 June 2022. The programme was sponsored by Lodge Brothers (South Street) and the Isleworth Society. The event and the 2022 restoration of the Isleworth War Memorial were made possible by a grant from Thriving Communities, London Borough of Hounslow.