Exhibition marks 100 years of the Stockwell war memorial and its 574 names

An exhibition to commemorate the centenary of the unveiling of Stockwell War Memorial on 3 May 1922 will run from Saturday 30 April to Saturday 7 May (except Sunday) at St Michael’s Church, 56 Stockwell Park Road, SW9 0DA.

The exhibition, with themes of remembrance, community and renewal, is organised by Friends of Stockwell War Memorial and Gardens with Stockwell Parish.

Lucy Caldicott, who represents Stockwell Ward on Lambeth council, said: “It’s wonderful to think that the Stockwell War Memorial has been in place for 100 years.

“It is a beacon of remembrance, resilience and hope at the heart of our Stockwell community which is as relevant in 2022 as it was in 1922.

“I look forward to attending the exhibition to celebrate its centenary year.”

Historian Naomi Clifford, chairman of Friends of Stockwell War Memorial and Gardens, said: “The Friends are thrilled to be able to bring alive the history of the memorial for the community of Stockwell and the worldwide network of relatives of the 574 men named.

Memorials such as Stockwell are both important signifiers of the terrible loss war brings and valuable repositories of local history.

“We are grateful to the parish of St Michael’s, which has a war memorial itself within the church, for their help in hosting this event.”

The exhibition will include:

● The reminiscences of the local stonemason who built the memorial.

● Newly discovered photographs.

● A short film about the memorial through the decades.

● Details of the competition run by the Royal Academy to find a suitable design.

● Newspaper reports on the solemn drama of the unveiling on 3 May 1922.

The exhibition will be free to visitors.

In its report of the unveiling and dedication on 5 May 1922, the Brixton Free Press described the monument as “one of the finest of London’s war memorials”.

It was erected “on the once derelict district eyesore known as the Triangle, situated at the important junction of Clapham Road, Stockwell Road and South Lambeth Road”.

old photo of woman at public ceremony
Princess Alice, the Countess of Athlone, unveils the monument

The entire scheme cost about £5,000. The clock itself was a gift of Dr. Caiger, of the South West London Hospital, one of the many parents to lose sons in the First World War.

The site was laid out as a public garden by the Lambeth Borough Council at a cost of something approaching £1,000, the Free Press said.

Public support helped to raise funds, “especially in what may be regarded as the more or less adventitious methods which had to be adopted during the winter months, when successful dances were held in aid of the funds”.

The paper recorded that: “The freehold of the land was obtained from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners through the kind services of Messrs. Clutton and conveyed to the Lambeth Borough Council in consideration of an undertaking to maintain it as a garden in perpetuity.

“The contractor for the building was Mr. John F. Patrick, of Dalyell Road, Stockwell.”

The directors of the Stockwell Palladium granted the use of their “convenient theatre” as a robing room.

Before the ceremony music was played by the band of the “W” Division, Metropolitan Police and the choir of boys and girls from Spurgeon’s Orphanage nearby.

Princess Alice, the Countess of Athlone, unveiled the monument. “The Princess was dressed in deep black, owing to the death of Lord Mountbatten, and carried a tightly rolled umbrella and a very neat handbag,” recorded the Free Press.

The Mayor said Lambeth people were “very humble”, but assured Her Royal Highness that they welcomed her sincerely for coming amongst them.

Naomi Clifford will discuss the history of the memorial  and the significance and meaning of the clock tower in an online event hosted by Lambeth libraries at 7pm on Thursday 21 April.

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Friends of Stockwell War Memorial and Gardens is an unincorporated association, whose aim is to protect the memorial, campaign for its proper maintenance and promote awareness in the community of its significance.