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"THE SLOPES" MEMORIAL, BUXTON:

The town's main, 'official' War Memorial, stands on a hill - known locally as 'The Slopes' overlooking the town centre and The Crescent. It stands approximately 8 metres high, on a base approximately 2 metres square.

It is made from 'Ashlar' stone with bronze ornaments. The two step square base has a curved front and supports rectangular base with plinth and projecting curved front bearing bronze inscription:

PRO PATRIA
1914 + 1918
1939 + 1945

Above the base is a tall obelisk with laurel band and pyramidal cap, which bears bronze panels on three sides, and at the front a bronze figure of a winged angel, representing "Victory" holding a sword brandishing a laurel wreath.

The Memorial was designed and sculptured by Louis Frederick Roslyn (born Louis Frederick Roselieb) (1878–1934). [see photo below] The memorial cost £3000 - a relative value of about £120,300 today [2014] - and was unveiled on the 18th September 1920 by Lieut General Sir Ivor Maxse. The initial aim was to raise £5,000 each for the Memorial and a Cottage Hospital extension. A model of the Buxton War Memorial was included in the Royal Academy's 1919 Exhibition.

As the photo on the left shows, originally the Memorial did not have its surrounding wall and paved assembly area, not doubt added as became necessary to gather for Remembrance Day commemorations.



The Memorial bears the names of 316 First War dead (315 men and 1 woman). After the Second World War another plaque bearing the names of 70 dead from that conflict (69 men and 1 woman) was added. In 2010 a third plaque was added for two more Buxton men who gave their lives in subsequent conflicts.

The Memorial details below have, therefore, been organised into these three divisions:

1: World War 1 - each of these casualties (as far as possible) has a page of their own, containing personal and Service histories;

2: World War 2 - as many of these casualties have living direct relatives, no significant personal details have been researched, and

3: Subsequent War Dead - the two names added to the Memorial in 2010 and two more added in 2015.



'The Buxton Advertiser' of the 10th May 1919, however, published a request from the Buxton War Memorial Committee inviting designs from architects "… for a memorial, the form of which is to be a monument bearing the names of those who have fallen. The prices are not to exceed £500 to £1000, and to include the placing of the memorial in position on the site chosen, which is the shrubbery at the foot of Manchester Road."

It added that designs had to be "… lodged with the Hon. Secretary, Mr J.M. Scott, manager of the Information Bureau, Colonnade, no later than Friday, 31st inst."

The History of the Building of the Memorial, - however, reveals that not only was the current Memorial not the original design, neither was The Slopes the original location.

As early as Thursday, 27th March 1919, a meeting was held at the Town Hall to discuss proposals for a suitable Memorial. 'The Buxton Advertiser', published on the 29th, reported in great detail the proceedings of the meeting. A "sketch-design" of a proposed Memorial to be erected in the Borough had, apparently, "... been prepared by the War Memorial sub-committee and exhibited in the Town for several weeks." The Mayor, Chairing the meeting, added  that: ".. whilst not wishing to prejudice the feelings of that meeting, the design had the approval of the majority of Council members." He also pointed out that a stone Memorial could be paid for entirely by voluntary contributions; other schemes might need maintenance and incur a charge on the rates.

As the meeting progressed a number of alternative proposals came up for discussion:

       1: The National Union of Railwaymen - 'wash baths' and swimming baths;
       2: Dr. McOscar - also swimming baths, but also "The Buxton Heroes Commemoration Scholarship", to benefit local children's educational needs;
       3: High Peak Parliamentary Labour Party - also favoured Swimming and wash baths, 'badly needed for many years';
       4: Rev. E. M. Moffat [Congregational Church] - pointed out that the proposed obelisk would be commemorative but have no practical use. He proposed a building where local people could meet their friends, with refreshments, etc.;
       5: The Comrades of the Great War - with a long submission, but basically agreed that "... any memorial publicly subscribed for should be of a utilitarian character.", but have a Roll of Honour attached;
       6: The Buxton & District Cottage Hospital Committee - an extension to the Hospital. [See: Hospital Extension]

Many more contributors to the meeting had their thoughts carefully documented, but it seemed obvious that the majority were in favour NOT for a static memorial, but for a lasting addition to the Buxton Community, particularly reflected the general populus in the form of meeting places, bathing facilities, etc.

On Sunday morning, the 27th April 1919 the Annual General Meeting of the Comrades of the Great War was held at its club in Spring Gardens, Buxton. 'The Buxton Advertiser' again published in great detail the business of the meeting in its edition the following Saturday, the 3rd May 1919.

The issue of a suitable War Memorial was again discussed in considerable details and not without considerable disagreement. Major Heathcote began by explaining the features of the memorial which had been proposed by the "Comrades". "In view of one of their objects, he said, i.e. to perpetuate the memory of the fallen, a purely useless structure in the form of a monument was quite in keeping, but it should not take up the whole of the funds available."

The Committee, he went on: "… agreed with the idea of a memorial, but wanted something useful as well …" and: "The proposal was that they should have an Institution to enable wives and families of the men to get a certain amount of relaxation." Plans were available for the proposed building and for a cost of about £1000 they were looking at a large hall with: "… on one side would be an enquiry desk, with a room for people to mix in with recesses for writing letters, with the whole of one side as a war museum.

On one side would be the men's club and across the hall the women's club. Then there was a dance hall, children's play room, and lavatories on each floor; a quiet room for lectures. There would be a large entertainment room, quiet room, cloak rooms, etc. On the next floor would be the hostels, with small sick bay, and over the top the steward's quarters. There was no reason why there should not be a swimming bath in the basement, with such things as healing apparatus, stores and kitchen."

Exactly where this structure was to be built was not specified, but it was felt that if the Committee could raise £10,000 it, and the Memorial, were both possible and they ought to get a gift of the land.


From the description, it seems that the selected site is that shown in the snowy scene above right, at the back of St John's Church, where Manchester Road joins St John's Road.

This plan was soon changed, however, as by the 2nd August 1919 - 3 months later - "The Buxton Advertiser" was reporting on Roslyn's design for the monument as ".. a simple monolith, rising to a height of nearly 30 feet. In front of the monument on the lower plinth and brought forward by a projected base is a life sized winged figure of Victory."

Some revision of the design clearly followed, but by the 26th September, in a letter published in 'The Advertiser' the following day, the War Memorial Committee Hon. Secretary, Mr. J. M. Scott, announced that: "It is intended to erect a monument on the Slopes, in memory of the gallant lads from Buxton who fell in battle, and this will have bronze tablets bearing the ranks and names of those brave men."

In the same later Mr Scott made it clear that relatives of the fallen would NOT have to pay 5 shillings [25 p] for the privilege of having names included. A Map  and aerial view of the new site and the view from it are shown below:

THE WAR MEMORIAL
Unveiled by Lieut-Gen. Sir Ivor Maxe
Impressive Ceremony on the Slopes
Buxton Tribute to Fallen Heroes

Thus read the banner headline in 'The Buxton Advertiser' of Saturday, 25th September 1920 when reporting, in great details the unveiling on the previous Saturday, the 18th, "... with impressive ceremonial.".

"In this Memorial we have sought to symbolise our grief for our heroic dead, our belief that they are not dead, but living, our hope for the future, our thanksgiving for the victory; and we have set up a stone by which future generations of men for ever may remember that Buxton, in the country's hour of need, was not lacking in men who were willing to make the supreme sacrifice for their country."

These were the opening words of the Marquis of Hartington, "... spoken with an earnestness and sincerity that touched a responsive chord in the hearts of all who heard them." The Monument was described and it was also stated that at sometime in the future it was proposed to lay a series of stone steps between the two urns up to the front of, and behind, the Monument. "This will complete one part of the Buxton War Memorial Scheme. The other part is the extension of the Cottage Hospital."
These two postcards show the Memorial in it original setting, on the left - produced not long after the unveiling in 1920. By 1934, however, the date of the postcard on the right, the paving slabs were in place, although the surrounding retaining wall had yet to be built.
The unveiling was performed by General Sir (Frederick) Ivor Maxse, KCB, CVO, DSO, after the
singing of the opening hymn 'O God Our Help in Ages Past'. The Marquis of Hartington (The Mayor
of Buxton) invited the General to release the Union Jack that covered the bronze figure and name
tablets with the words:

"It is fitting, sir, that you, a great and respected and successful commander in our armies, should
perform this ceremony, for we fell that we have in you not only a commander, but an embodiment
of that spirit which in all classes of the army has won us the terrible war from which we have just
emerged."

With that the honour guard of the Sherwood Foresters came to attention, the Memorial was unveiled and the buglers sounded 'The Last Post'. After General Maxse had addressed the crowd, 'Reveille', was heard and Canon Scott-Moncrieff dedicated the Memorial: "To the Glory of God, and in proud and loving memory of those who gave their lives to defend us."

More prayers were offered by other Clergy and after the singing of 'Fight the Good Fight', the benediction was said by the Vicar of Buxton, and the National Anthem sung.

'The Buxton Advertiser' then listed in great detail the names of those who laid floral tributes and wreaths, complete with each accompanying dedication. It also printed the names of the fallen listed on the bronze plaques. [see below]
The Scene around the Unveiling of the Buxton Memorial [Buxton Advertiser, 25 Sept. 1920]
Maj. Edgar Horace Heathcote and other Great War Veterans in the Procession to the Memorial
[Buxton Advertiser, 25 Sept. 1920]
World War 1 Names:

As seen in the images above, the front of the Buxton 'Slopes' Memorial shows a bronze figure of a
winged angel, representing "Victory" holding a sword  and brandishing a laurel wreath.

The other three sides of the Monument have bronze plaques displaying, in relief, the names of the
First World War dead, arranged by Service and Rank Order.

Panel 1 [right side] lists the 8 Royal Naval casualties, and below, under the heading "H.M. MILITARY
FORCES" are listed, in order of Rank, the Army, including Royal Air Force (Royal Flying Corps).
Within each Rank category, the names are in alphabetical order.

Panel 2 [rear] continues in the same vein - as does Panel 3 [right side].

 
Panel 1 [Right side]
Panel 3 [Left side]
Panel 2 [Rear Face]
Details to the Personal and Military histories of these 315 men [and 1 woman] can be accessed using the alphabetical index found at the top of the page.
World War 2 Names:

On the rear side of the Memorial's supporting plinth is a similar bronze plaque bearing the names of 132 men and 1 woman from the town who gave their lives in the Second World War.

Unlike the Great War names, these bear no Rank or title, but are arranged in alphabetical order, by Service arm. In Column 1 are listed 17 Royal Navy casualties and 2 from the Merchant Navy. Columns 2, 3 and 4, under the heading "H.M. MILITARY FORCES", i.e. the Army, are 91 names, and in Column 5 are named the 23 Royal Air Force men.
.

 
In the interests of privacy and in respect of direct living relatives, no in depth study of the personal lives of Second War casualties has been undertaken.
Marine Scott Gregory Taylor joined the Marines in September 2007, aged 18, after completing his GCSEs and A-levels at Buxton Community School. Scott died in an explosion on Sunday 30th May 2010 while on foot patrol near Sangin with Alpha Company, 40 Commando. 

He was brought home and buried with full Military Honours. Thousands of local residents lined the route of his cortege and Scott now lies in Buxton Cemetery, with the War Dead from earlier conflicts.

[Read more of Scott's career and tributes on the Ministry of Defence website.]
Subsequent Conflicts:

On the 14th October 2010 'The Buxton Advertiser' announced plans for two Buxton soldiers
to be remembered on the town’s cenotaph. A formal request to High Peak Borough Council
had been made by the Royal British Legion in response to public demand. Planning
permission is needed, as the monument is Grade 2 listed, and that was granted on Monday,
12th October.

The original proposal also included the addition of extra wording to the front of the Memorial,
as shown on the right. However, this has not, as yet been implemented.

The move followed the death, in May, of Marine Scott Taylor who was serving in Afghanistan.
The second soldier to be remembered is Sapper Geoffrey Ponsonby who died in the Cyprus
Emergency.

Subsequently, on Remembrance Sunday that year, 14th November 2010, the new plaque, bearing these two names, was formally unveiled and dedicated. [As reported in 'The Buxton Advertiser' on the 11th November 2010.]

 
C L I C K -  for full downloadable list of names on the Buxton Memorial
Sapper Geoffrey Ponsonby served with the 176 Workshops Squadron, Royal Engineers and was one of the 371 British servicemen who died on active service during the Cyprus Emergency, 1955 - 59.  On the 16th October 1956 Geoffrey died in Nicosia Hospital, Cyprus.

He is buried at Wayne’s Keep, the British military cemetery in Cyprus, Plot 23 Row B Grave 17. [ CLICK on Geoffrey's name to go to his Memorial Page on this site.]

N.B. Geoffrey is also commemorated on The British Cyprus Memorial.
Sources:
C L I C K -  for full downloadable list of the WW2 names on the Buxton Memorial
 
On the 13th February 2015 'The Buxton Advertiser' announced further plans for the addition
of the names of two more Buxton soldiers to be remembered on the town’s cenotaph in a
Service of Dedication held on the 26th February, organised by the Buxton branch of the
Royal British Legion. The second new name panel is mounted below the 2010 one.

According to the 'Advertiser', the new names being added are Corporal Jack Richardson,
of the Sherwood Foresters, Notts and Derbyshire Regiment, who was killed in Korea, and
Private Freddie Slack of The Welch Regiment, who was killed in Palestine, added below
the names of Scott Taylor and Geoffrey Ponsonby (see above).

However, the Regiments quoted have been transposed, as the name on the new panel for Private Slack - see below - clearly names him as: "Pt. Slack F J W", who was Private 14956036 Frederic J. W. Slack, of the 2nd Battalion, Sherwood Foresters Regiment, who was killed or died on the 21st October 1947, and is buried in Grave 3. B. 15., Moascar War Cemetery, 10 kilometres by road from Ismailia, Egypt. [ CLICK on Freddie's name to go to his Memorial Page on this site.]
Corporal 14466099 John Richardson served with the 1st Battalion, Welch Regiment, and was Killed in Action in Korea on Wednesday, 30th April 1952 from wounds received from a mortar bomb.

John was buried at UN Military Cemetery Busan, South Korea, on Tuesday, 6th May 1952 at 2.00 p.m. [ CLICK on John's name to go to his Memorial Page on this site.]

[N.B. The dedication of the new name plaque on the Memorial was reported in 'The Buxton Advertiser', published on-line on the 1st March 2015.]