Early in June Hyndburn Borough Council decided to leave the memorial where it is for three main reasons.
1) Although only 5.2% of residents objected the Council felt obliged to listen to people who had taken the time to respond.
2) The local community seemed willing to find ways to help people with mobility issues get up to the war memorial on Remembrance Sunday.
3) The Friends Group believed that they had identified suitable sources of grant funding to help improve access to the memorial in its existing location.
Residents wishing to make their views known or to ask questions should contact Hyndburn Borough Council
or the "Friends of Huncoat War Memorial and Recreation Ground."
See the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Friends-of-Huncoat-War-Memorial-and-Recreation-Ground/602157669915756?fref=ts.
Land on Huncoat Bank was granted for use as a Recreation Ground for the village in 1878 by the Peel family but the deed of purchase for just over 5½ acres was dated 14th July 1911. The 1890 version of the O.S. map showed that Huncoat Bank was divided into two fields with the recreation ground occupying the L shaped section in the east.
Brief Report of Committee 1919
“In response to a general desire on the part of the inhabitants, a Parish Meeting was convened on 21st May 1919, to consider the advisability of giving a “Welcome Home” to the men of Huncoat who served in H.M. Forces during the late war, and to further consider the best way of commemorating the heroic sacrifice of those who have given their lives for liberty and justice.
A committee was appointed, consisting of members of the Parish Council, the Overseers, representatives of ex-servicemen, the various religious organisations of the village, the working men’s club and the Loyal Highbrake Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The “Welcome Home” was given and Peace celebrations were duly observed.
In October 1919 and at the request of the Parish Council , the Committee was empowered to raise funds for the erection of a permanent war memorial. A subscription list was opened early in 1920, special collections were made in the churches and a house to house collection which resulted in the sum of £304 being raised.
The Committee realised the necessity of obtaining professional help and William J Newton Esq Borough Engineer and Surveyor to the Corporation of Accrington was approached by a deputation and he most readily placed his services at the disposal of the Committee. Two designs were submitted in August 1921 one of which was selected and an estimate for the same approved.”
On 29th April 1922 a crowd of dignitaries, officials, members of the memorial committee, relatives of the fallen, ex-servicemen, girl guides, boy scouts and members of the Ancient Order of Buffaloes assembled outside the primary school to make procession to the new memorial led by the 8th Battalion East Lancashire Regimental Band. The un-veiling Ceremony was performed by H.H. Bolton Esq. MBE JP.
The souvenir “Book of Remembrance and Programme of Proceedings” said “All ye that pass by, remember with gratitude the Men who died for you!”
“The Memorial is in the form of a cross executed in Grey Longridge Stone. It is 16 feet 6 inches in height and 9 feet 6 inches wide at the base which is formed of three tiers of steps 2 feet 7 inches in height on which the pedestal is fixed. Here is inscribed the Dedication and the names of the fallen.”
“To our glorious dead.
Border Regt. - Pte Thomas Philip Chapman
“The shaft of the Cross rests on the pedestal and is 10 feet 6 inches in height. In order to prevent damage to the Memorial by children it has been surrounded with a stone kerb and wrought iron railing. The Memorial stands in a commanding position in the Public Recreation Grounds some 675 feet above ordnance datum. The total cost, including all charges, is about £320, which has been subscribed by the public. The work, which was let by tender, has been carried out by Messrs. Thos. Hodgkinson & Sons, Preston.”
In 1928 Huncoat ratepayers voted in favour of amalgamation with Accrington and so on 3rd April 1929 Huncoat was duly transferred from Burnley Rural District Council. The western section of land of slightly over 2 acres was added to the Recreation Ground on 27th August 1930 following purchase from Edward Thorpe. So the whole site is now owned by Hyndburn Borough Council.
In 1936 the memorial was blown down and damaged in a January gale.
During the Second World War the wrought iron railings were removed as part of the war effort. Six more names of the fallen were added to the memorial after the war.
On 20th December 1977 a local newspaper reported that a suggestion to move the war memorial had been rejected by Hyndburn Borough Council's Recreation and Amenities committee. Apparently, the memorial had, more than once been defaced by spray paint which was difficult to remove. It was felt that it could be even more vulnerable to vandalism if it was moved next to a main road. A proposal to erect a new fence or railings around the memorial was also rejected.
In December 2003 the Huncoat Community Forum under Chairman Geof Coglan conducted a public consultation on whether the war memorial should be moved. The response was largely against moving it but that a surfaced path should be built up to it.
However no agreement could be reached with the Council because it did not want the expense of laying a path or its subsequent maintenance and also had concerns over public liability, health and safety issues.
In Autumn 2014 following some further calls for the memorial to be moved the Royal British Legion held a public consultation session in association with Hyndburn Borough Council who organised some site foundation investigations both at the memorial and Stone Hey corner.
In December 2014 a cabinet meeting of Hyndburn Borough Council approved a proposal to relocate the war memorial from the recreation ground to Stone Hey corner at the junction of Station Road and Lowergate Road. Public preference for improved access to the existing site was ruled out because the gradient would be unsuitable for disabled access and incur ongoing maintenance and public liability costs that could not be justified.
Just before Christmas there was a campaign on Facebook called "Don't Move the Cross" which aired a lot of the arguments but the page disappeared by the New Year. It attracted scores of postings and indicated there might be a lot of local opposition to the memorial being moved.
A group has since been formed called "Friends of Huncoat War Memorial and Recreation Ground".
A rough survey of the recreation ground indicates the following facts.
There is some evidence in local people’s memory and old photographs of there having been some sort of track up to the memorial from Burnley Lane but this may only have been a builders hardcore road used in its construction. Tests on the site indicate gravel, rubble or hardcore along a slightly curving line buried beneath soil and turf to depths between 2 and 6 inches.
There may also be some sort of surface buried beneath the path reaching the recreation ground beside Bank Terrace though this has fallen into neglect. It must have once been a recognised entrance for it starts with a stone step and a wall topped by iron railings.
Towards the southern corner of the recreation ground in Highergate Road there are concrete steps which seem to closely coincide with the 1890 map location of a well but could also have been another formal access point?
A public consultation took place regarding the planned move of Huncoat War Memorial from its current position on the recreation ground to the corner of Station Road and Lower Gate Road. The move has come about following a request to Hyndburn Borough Council from the Royal British Legion to improve accessibility to the monument for the disabled and infirm.
The consultation period will take place between 27th February and 27th March and all Huncoat residents are eligible to send any questions or comments they may have to HBC in writing or via the email address below. Please remember to enclose your full name and address.
An open public session will also take place on 17th March from 3.00pm until 8.00pm at the Council Offices for anyone to come and view the proposal and ask questions.
Anyone wanting further information can contact Councillor Ken Moss on 01254 882797 or 07789077816
HYNDBURN BOROUGH COUNCIL
|The Pros and Cons
Many Huncoat folk ask the basic question-
If money can be found to relocate the memorial and spruce it up with landscaping, lighting and flagpoles then why cannot the same money be used to improve access to the existing site?
Hyndburn Borough Council however, counter that the gradient of the hill where the memorial currently stands is too steep for disabled access that they are required by law to conform to with new paths. Also, the ongoing maintenance and public liability costs cannot be afforded.
There is strong local sentinment about the position the memorial currently occupies commanding an imposing position over Huncoat with wide ranging views out towards Pendle, Burnley, Blackburn and Whalley. Likewise, it can be seen as a proud landmark from many distant places. It is part of the fabric and character of the village, part of its history and heritage and it was placed there for a reason.
However, the proposal to move it also has great merit. Many people don't see it where it is. Many don't visit it and some don't even know it is there. On Stone Hey corner it would be much more noticed and appreciated. The council say that moving it off the recreation ground does not change the protected status of that land. It would remain an open public space with something else placed there to mark the site.
The £75,000 cost of relocating the memorial will be largely financed by external sources which would not likely to be available for the £100,000 cost of improving access to the existing recreation ground location. A suggestion has been made that the council might be willing to lease the recreation ground with the war memorial in situ to a community group for a token rent. That group could then raise funds independently to create a path up the hill but would have to take on great commitments, responsibilities and liabilities. However, the consultation needs to be got out of the way first before any arrangements of this sort can be formally considered.