Exploring the years from the Great War

The Stray, Lightcliffe
The Stray, Lightcliffe

As part of the centenary of the First World War, I will be giving a power point presentation as part of the 1940s weekend next month.

Between now and then I will be featuring an aspect of the First World War years here in Brighouse.

The Stray, Lightcliffe

The Stray, Lightcliffe

I am starting this series of stories with The Stray war memorial at Lightcliffe.

These photographs were taken on the 9th of September 1923 in what was to become The Stray at Lightcliffe.

Discussions about some kind of a permanent memorial to the young men who lost their lives during the First World War began soon after the war in 1919.

Four schemes were initially considered; Firstly club premises for the ex-soldiers and sailors of the district. That idea never really got beyond the discussion stage because someone brought up the problems of securing the place and the possible long term costs.

The second proposition was a cenotaph but it didn’t get the wider approval from the community.

The third was to purchase Smithson Park but a price of between four and five thousand pounds and then the permanent upkeep ruled that out of the question.

The final suggestion was a memorial walk from the White Horse Inn at the Leeds Road and Bramley Lane junction down through the fields into Bailiff Bridge.

That too never really got off the ground because the difficulties of obtaining either permission or purchasing the proposed pathways that would cut through land that was owned by too many different landowners.

In 1922 further negotiations had taken place with the Smithson family who at that time lived at Lydgate House, Wakefield Road.

A property that many years later was sub-divided into houses within a house and the grounds were built on and now form what is called Lydgate Park.

The Smithson’s agreed to lower their original asking price to £2,000.

Through the generosity of the local populace, a public subscription raised the funds to purchase the necessary piece of land and with some help from the Lightcliffe firm Brookes’ Stone Company the memorial cenotaph was realised and this photograph shows the cenotaph a few hours before the Right Honourable J.H.Whiteley M.P officially opened The Stray and unveiled the new war memorial itself.

The memorial is a piece of Shap granite weighing eight tons and erected on a stone base making it almost fourteen feet high.

There is no doubt that all those people who attended the opening would have been thinking and praying that the war never happened again.

The Stray was a name taken from the laid out open greenery and name sake in Harrogate.

Next week I will be looking at the war memorial and park at Bailiff Bridge.