Fenton’s Cenotaph in Albert Square was unveiled by Colonel John Vaughan Campbell V.C. on Armistice Day, November 11th, 1922.
The ceremony started at 2.30pm with a service in the town hall, where a Minton Hollins enamelled faience memorial panel had been fixed to the wall of the main staircase. Designed by Walter Brown, who had been a student at Fenton Art School, it contained the names of Fenton men who had been killed in action during the First World War (1914-1918).
When the service ended, the memorial panel was unveiled by Colonel John Ward, the Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent, who had commanded the 25th Middlesex Regiment during the war.
A detailed description of the memorial was given in the official programme which read:
“A panel containing a complete list of the names of the men of Fenton who fell in the Great War is erected on the wall of the main staircase of the town hall and is seen on entering the vestibule. This has been executed in richly enamelled faience and is architectural in character. The names are painted in scarlet letters and black capitals on a cream ground, and are preceded by the words, ‘In proud and glorious memory of the men of Fenton who fell in the Great War, 1914-1918,’ and surmounted by a floral wreath and shield worked in mosaic, with a background of vermilion. The moulded framework is coloured in a neutral green, the base having an inset of gold and black mosaic, and the inscription, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’.”
After Colonel Ward had unveiled the memorial, those who had attended the service made their way to the square where a large crowd was waiting to watch Colonel Campbell unveil the Cenotaph.
Standing on a reinforced concrete foundation 27 feet long, 27 feet wide and two feet thick, the Cenotaph was designed by architect Charles F. Simms who worked in the borough surveyor’s office in Stoke.
Constructed by Burslem sculptors W. & R. Mellor Ltd., the Cenotaph is a stone obelisk, 37 feet high. Supported by buttresses, it stands on a stone base eight feet wide and seven feet six inches high. The figure of a private soldier with arms reversed stands at the foot of the obelisk looking across the square towards Christchurch Street. Fenton’s coat of arms and its motto “Onward and Upward” is carved on the side of the Cenotaph facing the town hall. There are laurel wreaths and festoons on the other three sides with the words “Honour, Sacrifice and Courage” carved beneath them.
Copyright Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust 2013