The year 2021 sees the centenary of our war memorial. What makes the Matlock Bath Memorial unique? This is the story of its creation from conception to completion.
Construction and Cost – This war memorial, one of the finest in Derbyshire, was erected by voluntary public subscription and the people of Matlock Bath decided that it should be made of durable materials rather than less hard-wearing local alternatives.
The designer and contractor was James Beresford & Sons of Belper.
The three-tier pedestal was fashioned from Cornish granite and the inscriptions were formed with hand cut lead lettering let into the monument.
The figures of the soldier and sailor holding the Union Flag aloft were carved in Italy from white Carrara marble at the studio of Fedele Andreani & Fratelli. The sculptor is believed to have been Giuseppe Lagomarsini.
The design was later copied for War Memorials which can still be seen in Cannock and Scunthorpe.
After the Second World War the wording “Erected by voluntary subscription by the inhabitants of Matlock Bath” was replaced with the names of those who had died in that conflict.
Funding and Unveiling – The decision to erect the War Memorial to the fallen from Matlock Bath was made in May 1919. The total cost was £710, and donations could be promised in monthly instalments. The 22 names to be inscribed were submitted by the residents.
A large crowd witnessed the unveiling ceremony by Frederic Arkwright of Willersley Castle, the Deputy Lieutenant of the County, at 3.00 pm on the beautiful and sunny afternoon of Sunday 1st May 1921. 36 wreaths were laid by the bereaved relatives and the names of the dead were read out. The Vicar of Matlock Bath, Rev W Askwith, dedicated the monument.
Mr Witham, on behalf of the Council, agreed to accept the Memorial “as a sacred charge to be taken care of and passed on from generation to generation”.The ceremony ended with the sounding of The Last Post and the singing of the National Anthem.
Today, the Memorial is in the care of the Parish Council and in 2018 we applied for it to have Listed Building Status. This application was approved and it has been added to the list of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historical Interest (Grade ll).