Blackpool War Memorial and Cenotaph

Blackpool War Memorial and Cenotaph

Erected in 1923, Blackpool War Memorial and Cenotaph remembers all those lost in conflict. Find it in a prominent position on Blackpool Promenade. It’s within the Town Centre Conservation Area. 

An unmissable structure, notable buildings neighbour it on three sides. North Pier, the Metropole Hotel and Blackpool Town Hall on Talbot Road are all nearby. You can use postcode FY1 1RQ to find it.

We took a closer look in the summer of 2020 –

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Blackpool War Memorial and Cenotaph

The site of Blackpool War Memorial and Cenotaph includes a number of pieces. Grouped together, they remember conflict through the years.

Designed by Ernest Prestwich, the granite obelisk on a square pedestal is 30m tall. The bronze plaques around it sculpted by Gilbert Ledward. There’s much more information below about its historical importance.

Blackpool War Memorial and Cenotaph
Blackpool War Memorial and Cenotaph

Did you know? A ‘cenotaph’ is an empty tomb. Symbolically, it’s in memory of people whose bodies couldn’t be repatriated from war zones.

The Cenotaph at Blackpool War Memorial
The Cenotaph at Blackpool War Memorial

In 2007/8 a major restoration took place at the War Memorial. The stonework and bronzes were cleaned. A new memorial was also added during these restoration works. It remembers civilian casualties to conflict.

The new piece is ‘The Choir Loft’ by Artist Ruth Barker.  The Duchess of Cornwall unveiled the new memorial at the re-dedication service on 27th June 2008.

The Choir Loft at Blackpool War Memorial
The Choir Loft at Blackpool War Memorial

Blackpool War Memorial is central to remembering those fallen in past conflicts in the town. It’s the focus of Blackpool Armed Forces Week, held each year in June. And, of course, the Remembrance Day Services in November.

Historical Importance of Blackpool War Memorial and Cenotaph

Published June 2017

Blackpool War Memorial, at the cenotaph on Princess Parade, is Grade II* listed with Historic England.

Blackpool War Memorial and Cenotaph

The upgrade came in the run up to the centenary of the end of World War I in 2018. Historic England conducted a review around the importance of all war memorials around the country.

Blackpool War Memorial is one of only five Grade II* listed buildings in the town. It joins the Grand Theatre, Sacred Heart Church, Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes and the Winter Gardens. The Blackpool Tower is Grade I listed.

Did you know? There’s around 70,000 war memorials in the UK.

34 years ago, the special interest of Blackpool War Memorial was first acknowledged. It was first listed at Grade II in 1983.

Being upgraded from Grade II to Grade II* demonstrates how architecturally important Blackpool’s war memorial is. And how it fits within the context of a huge network of memorials across the country.

Blackpool War Memorial and Cenotaph

Five Reasons why it’s Grade II*

Five main reasons for the memorial’s upgrade are explained in the report to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport:

  • Sculptural interest: for the high-quality bronze sculptural plaques by Gilbert Ledward. He was a leading sculptor and President of the Royal Society of British Sculptors. They illustrate the role of women both on the Home Front and in uniform. Plus the rare depiction of a fallen German soldier;
  • Rarity: it’s a rare example of the depiction of women on a war memorial. It includes a wife and child left behind by enlisting men, a nurse, a grieving widow and a small girl. Plus an extremely rare depiction of a fallen German combatant;
  • Architectural interest: as a finely constructed and imposing white granite obelisk 30m tall, with well-crafted relief sculpture to the base of the obelisk and plinth;
  • Historic interest: it’s an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on the local community, and the sacrifice it made in the conflicts of the twentieth century;
  • Group value: with the Grade II listed North Pier and the Grade II Clifton Hotel.

Welcome recognition

Upgrading the listing is a fantastic recognition of all the work by Blackpool Council in partnership with the Fylde Ex-Service Liaison Committee. Blackpool is synonymous with the Armed Forces.

Joan Humble commented on behalf of Blackpool Civic Trust. She said “Blackpool Civic Trust has been working with Civic Voice and Historic England as part of the War Memorials Project. We have been recording little known war memorials across the town.

“Some of them were in churches, some in community spaces or clubs. All of them are important in highlighting how our communities have played an important role in the many conflicts that these memorials commemorate.

“More importantly though, they are evidence of tragedy within communities. Particularly in WWI and WWII”.

Why Blackpool War Memorial and Cenotaph is Noteworthy

Blackpool War Memorial and Cenotaph
Blackpool War Memorial and Cenotaph

Gilbert Ledward, sculptor of the bronze plaques, is responsible for a number of other notable memorials:

  • the sculpture on the Grade I listed Guards Memorial in London,
  • the Grade II* Memorial Art Gallery in Stockport,
  • Combined Services Memorial in Westminster Abbey,
  • war memorial in the Grade II* listed Stonyhurst College and
  • the Grade II Witham War Memorial.

Ernest Prestwich designed the obelisk. Plus the Grade II listed war memorials in Doncaster and Leigh, and a number of Grade II listed civic buildings in Tunbridge Wells and Northampton. Ernest Prestwich also designed the Dell, the Diamond and the Causeway at Port Sunlight. That’s a Grade II Listed Park and Garden.

Unusual Sculpture

The sculpture on the monument is unusual for its depiction of women. There’s Britannia and Victory, but also a wife and child left behind by enlisting men, a nurse, a grieving widow and a small girl and cat.

Sculptures of the women and children on the bronze
Sculptures of the women and children on the bronze

More unusual is the inclusion of the corpse of a dead German soldier. The depiction of dead combatants is very rare on war memorials, and the depiction of a dead German may be unique in England.

Can you make out the dead German soldier in the sculpture?
Can you make out the dead German soldier in the sculpture?

The monument also echoes the shape of the Grade I listed Blackpool Tower. View both structures from the north to best see the similarity.

Blackpool War Memorial, with the Blackpool Tower in the distance
Blackpool War Memorial, with the Blackpool Tower in the distance

Source: Report on the listing of Blackpool War Memorial as a Grade II* listed structure.

Links to other content…

More about Blackpool Armed Forces Week

Remembrance Day Services on the Fylde Coast

While you’re here…

Have a look at the homepage of the Live Blackpool website homepage for more of the latest updates.

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3 thoughts on “Blackpool War Memorial and Cenotaph”

    1. Sorry Glenn, that’s not something that I have. I don’t know whether Blackpool Council would be able to help you but I wouldn’t know who to tell you to contact either. Sorry 🙁

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