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Burton upon Trent War Memorial

A Grade II* Listed Building in Burton, Staffordshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.8004 / 52°48'1"N

Longitude: -1.631 / 1°37'51"W

OS Eastings: 424975

OS Northings: 322603

OS Grid: SK249226

Mapcode National: GBR 5DW.GGG

Mapcode Global: WHCG5.XWH0

Entry Name: Burton upon Trent War Memorial

Listing Date: 22 June 1979

Last Amended: 5 December 2016

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1288788

English Heritage Legacy ID: 273011

Location: Burton, East Staffordshire, Staffordshire, DE14

County: Staffordshire

District: East Staffordshire

Civil Parish: Burton

Built-Up Area: Burton upon Trent

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Staffordshire

Church of England Parish: Burton-on-Trent St Modwen

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield

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Burton upon Trent

Summary

War memorial including raised terrace, 1922, by Henry Charles Fehr.

Description

The memorial comprises a 2.25m high bronze winged Victory figure balancing on top of a bronze globe, raising a downward-pointing sword in its right hand and holding a laurel wreath in its left. This stand upon a 4.5m high, 2.4m wide, 1.8m deep ornate Classical Portland stone square-sectioned pedestal, which has cherubs with winged helmets at the four corners.

The pedestal carries bronze relief inscription plaques to the front and back faces, and bronze figures of St George (with foot on a dragon, whole 1.8m high) and a classical figure of Peace (holding a dove, whole 1.8m high) to either side.

The inscription on the front plaque reads: TO THE GLORIOUS/ AND IMMORTAL MEMORY/ OF THE OFFICERS/ NON COMMISSIONED OFFICERS/ AND MEN OF/ BURTON UPON TRENT / WHO SERVED/ IN THE GREAT WAR/ 1914 1919/ IN DEFENCE OF/ THEIR KING AND COUNTRY/ AND GAVE THEIR LIVES/ FOR THE VICTORY/ OF HONOUR AND FREEDOM/ OVER TERROR AND OPPRESSION/THEIR IMPERISHABLE NAMES/ ARE RECORDED ON THE WALLS / OF THE TOWN HALL/ OF THIS COUNTY BOROUGH/ AN EXAMPLE / TO THOSE/ WHO COME HEREAFTER.

The inscription on the back reads: TO BURTONS HEROES/ HONOUR/ TO THE IMMORTAL DEAD/ THAT GREAT WHITE/ COMPANY/ OF SHINING SOULS/ WHO GAVE THEIR YOUTH/ THAT THE WORLD MIGHT/ GROW OLD IN PEACE/ 1914 1919.

The later plaque reads: REMEMBERING ALSO/ THOSE WHO DIED/ IN THE WORLD WAR/ 1939 1945.

The whole is on a tiered three-stepped base, surrounded by a low wall that forms a spacious terrace enclosure for the monument.

This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Online. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 5 October 2017.

History

Councillor George Hill, the newly appointed mayor, aired the suggestion of having a memorial on 9 November 1918. A War Memorial Committee was promptly set up to commission the memorial. A War Memorial Fund was set up and £22,000 was eventually raised by public subscription, including large subscriptions from Bass and Worthingtons. £17,000 went to benefit ex-servicemen.

The Town Clerk is known to have worked with Henry Charles Fehr previously (at Hull, when he was Town Clerk there during the time that Fehr produced his 1903 statue of Queen Victoria) and had a high opinion of his work and his working method, recommending him strongly. It is notable that no open competition was held for the Burton memorial, so it is possible that the Town Clerk influenced the choice of sculptor. It is also known that members of the War Memorial Committee saw Fehr’s designs amongst others at the Royal Academy War Memorials Exhibition in October 1919.

On 11 February 1920, Fehr’s design, one that had been exhibited at the Royal Academy, was accepted. It had been suggested that the flanking figures should be of a North Staffordshire soldier and sailor, but this was turned down by the War Memorial Committee. The contract with Fehr was drawn up on 25 March 1920. The cost was agreed at £4,630. It was unveiled on 2 August 1922 by the Earl of Dartmouth PC KCB. Many of the major local employers allowed their staff time off to attend.

Victory had been a popular figure in war memorials for some time, and Fehr reused and reworked his design at Leeds, Colchester, and Shanghai. His Victory was used alone at Eastbourne, Lockerbie, Lisburn (County Antrim), and Langholm (Dumfries). To allow the elegance of the memorial to speak for itself, it was decided that the names of the local casualties would be recorded on panels inside the Town Hall. A small bronze plaque was later added low down on the front face with a general dedication to the Second World War.

Henry Charles Fehr (1867-1940) was a distinguished and prolific sculptor whose work was stylistically close to the ‘New Sculpture’ movement – the late-C19 renaissance in British sculpture that rejected the stylised neo-classicism of conventional figure sculpture in favour of naturalistic, often allegorical, forms. Fehr produced many fine public sculptures and war memorials and some exceptional work for civic buildings, notably Middlesex Guildhall, Westminster, West Riding County Hall, Wakefield, and Cardiff City Hall. Models for the statuary featuring on the Colchester memorial were shown at the Royal Academy War Memorials Exhibition, and were used in Fehr’s identical design at Colchester, Essex. His Peace and Victory figures were used at Leeds War Memorial, and the Victory figure at Graaf Reinet, South Africa. The decorative carving on the pedestal was presumably carried out by the Italian sculptor Carlo Magnoni (1871-1961) who worked in Fehr’s London studio, contributing to several of Fehr’s commissions, including identical work at Colchester.

In 2000, the war memorial was grant-aided by War Memorials Trust, to allow specialist conservation of the Victory statue off-site.

Reasons for Listing

Burton upon Trent War Memorial and terraced enclosure is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on this community, and the sacrifices it made in the conflicts of the C20;
* Architectural interest: three fine bronze sculptures surrounding a tall classical Portland stone pedestal with elaborate carvings, demonstrating high quality materials and craftsmanship;
* Sculptural interest: by the renowned sculptor, Henry Charles Fehr, whose sculptures are a dynamic rendering of the traditional figures of Victory, St George and the dragon, and Peace;
* Group value: with 1, 9 and 10 Lichfield Street (Grade II), Manor House (Grade II) and Burton upon Trent Abbey (scheduled monument).

Selected Sources

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