Memorials - Penwortham - Roll of Honour (The Time Capsule)
Location: Penwortham War Memorial, Liverpool Road, Penwortham
A few months ago when John Kay, who is researching the names of the men on the war memorial boards in St. Mary's church, showed me an order of service relating to the unveiling of Penwortham War Memorial, it gave me a date, which is one thing we did not know. Armed with that wonderful bit of information, the very next morning I spent in the Reference Library in the Harris, and lo and behold I found an article telling us all about the unveiling of our war memorial, just what we needed. After reading it a couple of times I could not wait to share the news with Ron Drakeford, volunteer custodian of the War Memorial, about the mention of a parchment containing the names of all the men from Penwortham who served in the First World War that had been placed in the war memorial.
Penwortham War Memorial - Unveiling ceremony by General Shoubridge
On scouring the war memorial for a 'recess' we decided it was more likely to be the stone underneath the plaque in the middle of the back wall of the memorial. After seeking permission from Penwortham Town Council Ron soon acquired a mini camera with which we could make a small hole in the mortar to see if we could see anything inside. One evening the Friends of Penwortham War Memorial met up to see what we could find. Although the image was very blurred on the lap top screen we thought there might be something there. Ron sought information from the Lancashire Archives and they kindly agreed to come along when we removed the stone, in case there was something there.
Archivist Mark Walmsley warned us not to get too excited as often these type of things have decayed many years ago, and there is not much left if anything. We all met at the memorial and local builder, Wayne Fletcher removed the stone. When all the dust had settled and the stone was slowly drawn out, we were all amazed to see, covered in dust and codwebs, a bottle which was standing at the back of the recess. After carefully removing it amid cheers and gasps, and seeing a Preston Guardian rolled up inside, we took a lot of photos, then it was whisked off to Lancashire Records Office by Mark Walmsley and Glenn Swarbrick. They told us we could go up there in an hour or so, and inspect the find. Luckily, most of the contents had survived. Though the order of service was in tiny pieces, and the Roll of Honour Scroll had some water damage, the majority of the names were still to be seen. There was also some pages from the Preston Guardian with an article and photograph about the war memorial being unveiled. We were allowed to take photographs and look at the contents in detail. Luckily the people who put the contents inside the bottle had sealed it with beeswax and this had been a great help in allowing most of the contents to survive for nearly a century.
It is fascinating to be able to look at the names on the scroll, which contains many names still remembered in Penwortham, Chitson, Dunwoody, Gildert, Greenwood, Rainford, to name but a few. After the work to preserve the contents further had been done it is now on display at Penwortham Community Centre for the next few weeks. So do go along and take a look and see if you can find any of your family members who served in the Great War named on the scrolls. The bottle used had the word 'Homestead' on it, if anyone has any suggestions about what it could have been, do get in touch.
A Wonderful Find!
Heather Crook, Friends of Penwortham War Memorial
Originally published in issue 30 of the Penwortham Magazine
Please email the project with any amendments or corrections
Published 28 March 2016
All images above courtesy of Heather Crook and The Friends of Penwortham War Memorial
Article below via British Newspaper Archive