In April 2008 Mrs Rita Finley, from Fulwood, wrote to the Lancashire Evening Post asking why there was no Memorial in Preston or in France to the memory of the Preston Pals. Though not involved with the military in any way, I felt moved for some reason to rectify this omission, and without thinking about the work involved, I promised Mrs Finley a Memorial would indeed be erected here in Preston to the memory of the Pals.Advertisement
The following two years were spent in researching the background and makeup of the Preston Pals. In 2011 the Preston Pals War Memorial Trust, with nine Trustees was registered with the Charity Commission.
It was agreed that John Shaw, one of the foremost letter-carvers in the UK, who I had worked with on two war memorials in St Wilfrid’s Church, Preston, would be responsible for the design and carving of the Preston Pals Memorial.
Listed Building Consent was approved by Preston City Council in 2011, and Network Rail and Virgin Trains, gave their permission for the Memorial to be erected on the wall between platforms 3 and 4 on Preston Railway Station.
Rather than resorting to the Heritage Lottery Fund, it was decided funds for the Pals Memorial would be raised by public subscription from the people of Preston, with major sponsorship from companies and organisations based in and around Preston. The official fundraising was successfully launched at the AGM of the Preston Historical Society on 9 May 2011, and within months the target for funds had been achieved.
There seems to be no record as to why a separate Preston Pals Memorial was not erected after the First World War, though thirty-one Pals are listed on the Preston’s Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum & Art Gallery. Possibly it was because there was no longer a cohesive ‘Pals’, as those who remained after 23 July 1916 were gradually absorbed into other regiments. But all that matters now is that after nearly 100 years, their gallantry and dedication have at long last been remembered and honoured with the Preston Pals War Memorial on Preston Railway Station.
It is proposed that a second Memorial, illustrated in the book Long Forgotten, Now Remembered, will be erected in Bazentin-le-Petit in July 2016.
With many parts of the World riven with conflict and countries split asunder, it is a moment to reflect on the courage of many men and women, who strive to keep us safe today, surely following the supreme example as shown by our Preston Pals.
Andrew Mather, Chairman Preston Pals War Memorial Trust.
Long Forgotten, Now Remembered priced at £10 plus 2.50 p&p and is available from
Andrew Mather, 20 Round Wood Penwortham Preston PR1 0BN
Have you ever seen the Preston Pals Memorial on Preston Railway Station and would you like to read the book? Let us know in the comments below.