The Creation of North Yorkshire’s War Memorial: Lothersdale

By Jo Faulkner, Record Assistant

Few documents survive in collections at the North Yorkshire County Record Office relating to the war memorial at Lothersdale. A minute book, recorded by the reverend J S Griffiths shows that Mr William Spencer of Raygill chaired the War Memorial Committee. Griffiths had moved from North Wales, to become vicar at Lothersdale in 1912. His only son Glynn served in and survived the First World War.

The Spencers had inherited the Raygill estate in 1820. William Spencer (1861-1949) was a prominent local figure who served as churchwarden and contributed to the church and church hall. He was central to many village improvements such as the village club and tree planting.  Although Spencer had not lost a son to the war, (two of his children had died in infancy leaving only a daughter) he had lost five nephews. In such a small community, he is very likely to have known the men who were lost.  

A scan of a double page spread showing the minutes of a Public meeting held on 20th September 1920 to consider the question of a village War Memorial. Discussion included the creation of a memorial recreation ground and a monument and a committee of 9 was to be appointed and authorised to proceed as far as possible with the combined scheme.
PC/LOS 2/1 minutes from a meeting to discuss a war memorial at Lothersdale

The primary concern of the first meeting, held on 20th September 1920 was how the costs could be met. The conclusion was that the Parish Council could only raise a maximum of £25 in any year for extraordinary expenditure. The second subject of discussion was what form the memorial should take. On this subject Mr W R Riddiough, on behalf of the ex-servicemen suggested that it should take the form of a recreation ground. The idea of a recreation ground was approved, although it was decided that a non-utilitarian; memorial or monument should also be erected.

The first committee under William Spencer consisted of ex-serviceman W R Riddiough, the Rector, J S Griffiths, R Wilson, J Wilson, W Wilkinson and W Todd. Two additional spaces were also to be filled by ex-servicemen. At the second meeting, perhaps appreciating the volume of work required, it was decided that 8 new members should be added to the committee and the rector suggested that three of these should be ladies. Several of the committee agreed, but moved that there should be five ladies. They were Mrs C J Smith, Mrs S Brown, Miss A Riddiough, Miss C Shuttleworth and Miss Alice Gill.

The committee were faced with many tasks including visiting suitable plots for the ground, negotiating sales, engaging expert advisers, drawing up a form of appeal for contributions and making enquiries as to the design, materials and cost of a monument. Notes in subsequent meetings reveal the work undertaken. A draft appeal was drawn up, land was surveyed and quotes sought. It was decided that the ex-servicemen should be permitted to provide a games field for their own use as part of the scheme.

By January 1921 a total of £950 had been either paid or promised. Unfortunately, no records of the names of those contributors survive in NYCRO collections. The land was purchased from Miss Mary Parker of Burlington House. Meetings throughout December 1920 focussed on groundwork and in particular ways of obtaining voluntary labour. It was resolved in a meeting of 7th February that all those who had given 15 hours of voluntary labour since the end of October should be paid for all future work. An account of these wages was kept, recording the names of those who laboured.

A scan showing a double page of the wage book kept to record the names of those who gave voluntary labour and the payments for work over 15 hours.
PC/LOS 4/3/3 list of those who gave voluntary labour to the war memorial recreation ground

Although there was some discussion on the site of the proposed war memorial, the matter was postponed at the final meeting covered by this minute book. We do know that the committee achieved their aims to provide both a recreation ground and a memorial, as a stone obelisk bearing the names of those who died in the First World War was unveiled in December of 1922 near to the recreation ground. Names from the Second World War were added later. In 2018 local residents created an information board which stands nearby.

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