Sharpness War Memorial - Kathryn's history blog

Friday, 25 September 2015

Sharpness War Memorial

Sharpness Docks - date unknown (photo source)
The village of Sharpness on the banks of the River Severn is dominated by the docks which connect the Bristol Channel with the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal. The dock grew in significance in the latter part of the nineteenth century, helped by its connection to both the Great Western and Midland Railways, making it a key trade hub to Bristol and the Midlands.

At the time of the First World War, many of the village's men would have been employed either on the dock or in shipping. Some of these would have been in reserved occupations, as shipping was a priority in the wartime economy, but others made the transition into either the Royal or Merchant Navy. Of the men on the memorial, approximately three served in the Royal Navy and six in the Merchant Navy.
Sharpness Train Station (photo source)
The memorial to the Sharpness men who died in the First World War takes the form of an oak raredos, placed in St, Andrew's Church and engraved with the names of the men. It was saved from the demolition of the old church in the 1990s and is now located inside the entrance of the new building.

The memorial bears the names of 52 men which is high for a small village, but many of these were docks workers and not necessarily residents of the village.

It is a surprisingly large and ornate memorial, standing at approximately six feet high, which juxtaposes with its present simple and modern surroundings. Funded largely by public subscription, the Gazette reported in 1920 that it cost £140 and was unveiled in March of that year. Memorials located in churches are not uncommon (neighbouring Berkeley has a metal plaque in St. Mary's Church) but I haven't seen another this large or with engraved dedications, particularly in this area.

It is interesting to note that approximately half of the men are also listed on the Berkeley memorial. Although Berkeley is the adjacent town, they are two distinct parishes and on most memorials the overlaps tend to only be for a few men who were residents of more than one place in their lifetime or who lived in one place and worked in another. The most likely explanation at first thought is that these were all Berkeley men who worked on the docks. This is certainly true for some, but others the connection to both places is less clear. A full list of men on the Berkeley memorial can be found here.

The names on the memorial are as follows:

W ARNOLD S FIELD A HOARE A SUMSION
W ALLEN F GASSER W HENDRICKSON R SMITH
C BENNELL E GASSER W KILMINSTER JW THOMAS
A BOXWELL P GASSER G LAMBERT W WIMBOW
R BOYS F GARDNER S MORGAN H SMITH
J BENNETT A GARDNER D MILES F SMART
M CORNOCK T GASTON R PHILLIPS A RUDGE
H BICK E PAUL E POPLE
T EVERETT R MEADOWS G SMALLWOOD J TURL
A FRYER A ORGAN R SKIDMORE R TAYLOR
E HOARE E ORGAN R STORKEY J WORKMAN
J KEEDWELL B PRICE T SCOTT T WATKINS
F LEWIS M PHILIPS W TOUT A WILLIAMS

Kathryn

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