Memorial Park, Fleetwood

Memorial Park, Fleetwood

Memorial Park Fleetwood was named in 1917 in memory to all those who died in World War One. The memorial statue was added just a few years later, along with trees planted by the children who lost relatives.

It’s a valuable asset to the community of Fleetwood, with things to do for people of all ages. There’s three Crown Green Bowling Greens, a children’s play area and picnic area, duck pond, football pitches and tennis courts.

Green Heritage Site

In 2016 Fleetwood’s Grade II listed Memorial Park was awarded a prestigious Green Heritage Site accreditation. It was given in recognition of its historical importance and high standards of care and upkeep.

Inside Memorial Park Fleetwood
Inside Memorial Park Fleetwood

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Green Heritage Site status is awarded by Keep Britain Tidy and Historic England. It’s only given to historical sites that are at least 30 years old and demonstrate excellence in heritage conservation. They must also have received a Green Flag Award, marking them as one of the best parks and green spaces in the country.

Wyre Council recently restored Memorial Park to its original 1920s landscape thanks to a £2.4m grant from the Heritage and Big Lottery Funds. It’s unique in that the entire grounds were created in commemoration of the First World War, unlike most conventional architectural memorials. This park is one of only a handful of listed war memorial parks and gardens in the country.

Grade II Listed

In October 2011, Memorial Park was listed as Grade II by English Heritage. It was also added to the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England.

This means that it’s not just special to local people and the community. It also has national recognition for its importance, and increased protection for the future.

Memorial Park was designed and built in 1925 by renowned town planner Sir Patrick Abercrombie. It’s unique in that the entire grounds were created in commemoration of the First World War, unlike most conventional architectural memorials. Did you know that it’s one of only four listed war memorial parks and gardens in the country?

Unveiling of Fleetwood Cenotaph in 1925 from the Fleetwood Chronicle
Unveiling of Fleetwood Cenotaph in 1925 from the Fleetwood Chronicle

This British Pathe film clip shows Admiral Sir William Goodenough unveiling the War Memorial in 1927.

British Pathe film clip of Fleetwood War Memorial being unveiled

 

Restoration of Memorial Park

Wyre Council secured a grant of £2.4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund in July 2013. The funding was for a comprehensive restoration of the Grade II listed park.

It also included creation of a five year programme of community activities, to celebrate its heritage and the unique history of the town.

Work started in early 2014 with the restoration of the park’s pavilion, now a community hub.

Main Entrance Gates

The main entrance on Warrenhurst Road, and Remembrance Avenue, lead to the war memorial in the centre of the park.

Their restoration to the original 1920s design was completed in time for Remembrance Sunday in 2014.

Main entrance at Warrenhurst Road
Main entrance at Warrenhurst Road

Previously, the impressive gateway was showing its age. It had been decorated inappropriately over the years, and was showing wear.

Gates at the entrance to Memorial Park in 2011 before restoration
Gates at the entrance to Memorial Park in 2011 before restoration

Soldier and Sailor Back in Place

The entrance gates of the Park originally carried plaques of a soldier and sailor. However the sailor had disappeared some years ago. The sailor symbolised Fleetwood’s naval role in the First World War and heavy loss endured by the community as a result of the many trawlers lost at sea.

Using detailed photographs taken by local resident John Dales, the plaque was remodelled and returned to its rightful position.

Plaques of the soldier and sailor on the main gate at Memorial Park
Plaques of the soldier and sailor on the main gate at Memorial Park

The sailor plaque is vital to understanding the war memorial and a symbol of everything the park stands for. Together they mean so much to people and are a poignant reminder of what the park is all about.

Remembrance Avenue

This is the main pathway, leading from the gate to the Cenotaph. Remembrance Avenue is lined with Sycamore trees planted by children whose fathers were killed in the First World War.

As part of the restoration, invasive vegetation has been removed and replaced with a variety of plants. They provide year round greenery and increase the park’s biodiversity.

The War Memorial

The war memorial bears the names of 329 local men killed in conflict.

It has been painstakingly cleaned and repointed, and the concrete steps and planters repaired.

The War Memorial inside Memorial Park Fleetwood
The War Memorial inside Memorial Park Fleetwood

Lost at Sea

Eric Curbishley is a local military researcher and friend of Visit Fylde Coast. He’s provided us with information to share about various local war memorials.

In October 2017, Eric contacted us with some information he’d found out about Fleetwood War Memorial. He says: “At the end of 2016 I started researching Fleetwood War Memorial (Second World War only). I couldn’t find one of the names on the memorial on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) database. Further research revealed that he was one of a Fleetwood crew of 12 men working on a trawler named “Lowdock” (below).

FD-388 Boat 'Lowdock'
FD-388 Boat ‘Lowdock’

On 19th March 1940 in the North Sea, during the hours of darkness, it was rammed and sunk by a Royal Navy anti-submarine vessel. Eleven of these men died with just one survivor.

Lost at Sea

“I contacted the CWGC to ask why these men are not commemorated and they replied that they did not meet their criteria. I have a copy of the Criteria for Civilian Deaths in WW2 which the CWGC are supposed to follow and in my opinion they have made a mistake.

“Since January this year (2017) there have been numerous e-mails between myself and the CWGC in my efforts to get them to amend their original decision not to commemorate but they have refused to change their minds.

“The owners of the trawler sued the commander of the Royal Navy vessel and I have recently applied under the Freedom of Information Act for a copy of the court case documents relating to this incident.

“Depending on what the documents reveal I plan to get my local MP involved as I really dislike injustice.” We’ll keep you posted.

Another Entrance

A new entrance way has also been formed adjacent to the main entrance at Highbury Stadium.

Entrance to Memorial Park adjacent to Highbury Stadium
Entrance to Memorial Park adjacent to Highbury Stadium

Restoration plans at the park include:

– Restore and improve the memorial and surrounding
– Restore Wolsley entrance
– Create a pavilion and demonstration garden for community use
– Restore pond and stream and create more public space
– Improve Percy Street garden
– Create a multi-use games area and restore two tennis courts
– Restore Warrenhurst entrance and Remembrance Avenue
– Walling at the bowling greens to be restored
– Restore Nelson Road entrance and create a new path
– Improve Highbury Avenue entrance and introduce arrival point
– Formalise woodland walk and link to restored rockery and pond
– Improve Welbeck Avenue entrance and create arrival point

Rose Garden

In 2011, The Friends of Memorial Park, were delighted to complete restoration of the rose garden. They worked closely with Wyre Council for two years to bring this plan to life.

A National Lottery Community Spaces Grant of £50,000 and an investment of £25,000 from United Utilities allowed the rose garden to be restored. At its best in the 1930’s the original garden had 2000 roses. However the passing years had seen the beds become old and the plants decline. Eventually many of them were removed and the beds grassed over.

The new garden is on the old site and includes many of the original features including steps, walls and paths. The modern planting scheme includes modern planting and plenty of seats and is a beautiful and tranquil spot for everyone to enjoy.

Views from the Past

This hand coloured postcard of scenes of Memorial Park dates back to the 1920’s.

Hand coloured postcards of Fleetwood Memorial Park
Hand coloured postcards of Fleetwood Memorial Park

While you’re here…

Have a look at the Visit Fleetwood website homepage for more of the latest updates.

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2 Comments
  1. Avatar

    Hi
    Please can you tell me how to apply for trade space at your events.
    Kind regards susan.

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