Tag Archives: Fenton Town Hall

Focus on Fenton – Fenton’s Cenotaph and War Memorial

John Vaughan Campbell (412x577)

COLONEL JOHN VAUGHAN CAMPBELL V.C

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

Fenton Park’s opening was marred by rain and controversy

DSC00781, Fenton, Fenton Park copyAlthough everyone had hoped that the day would be bright and sunny, it was pouring with rain on Monday, April 14th, 1924 when Alderman Frank Collis, the Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent, came to Fenton to open the new park in Cemetery Road.

The County Borough of Stoke-on-Trent was created in 1910 by amalgamating Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Longton and Fenton.

Shortly afterwards, the new county borough decided to give Fenton a park. The council purchased a 17-acre site in Cemetery Road and made plans to turn it into a park. Work on the project was suspended when the First World War broke out in 1914.

Council workmen started laying out the park in the 1920s. Supervised by the borough surveyor and the parks’ superintendent, they planted more than 8,000 trees and shrubs, erected a bandstand, laid a bowling green, created a tennis court and constructed children’s playgrounds.

Before he opened the park, the Mayor attended a civic luncheon held in Fenton Town Hall. Inside the hall, the atmosphere was tense. Fentonians still resented losing their independence and being forced by the House of Lords to amalgamate with the other pottery towns to create the County Borough of Stoke-on-Trent.  Many believed the county borough was deliberately neglecting Fenton and allowing it to die.

The town’s pent up frustrations surfaced after the meal. While proposing the toast “Success to Fenton and its new Park and Parks Committee”, the Deputy Mayor Mr F.T.H. Goodwin said Fenton had the best and most efficient fire brigade in The Potteries.

Almost everyone in the room knew that the county borough council was planning to close Fenton fire station.

Responding to the toast, Alderman Warren said that since the county borough had come into existence, Fenton had gone completely dead and was now called the town of the long, long street.

Alderman Phillip Elliot, the Chairman of the Education Committee who owned two drapers shops in Fenton, pointed out that it had taken the county borough 14 years to give the town a park and electric light. He recalled being told by the House of Lords when it was considering amalgamation, that Fenton had nothing – no furnace for burning refuse, no swimming pool and no market. Alderman Elliot had no hesitation in saying things had not changed. He ended his attack on the county borough by accusing it of developing the larger centres and neglecting little places like Fenton.

It was still raining heavily when a procession led by the Mayor left the town hall. The procession made its way to the park gates in Cemetery Road where a large crowd had gathered to watch the opening ceremony. Alderman Elliot handed the Mayor a gold key. The mayor unlocked the park gates and declared the park open.

© David Martin 2013

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