Coalville’s Clock Tower War Memorial.
There appeared in the Coalville Times on March 18 1920 an appeal for information regarding the names of local soldiers, who died in the Great War, and where they came from. In order to replace the first cenotaph to the Fallen, which had been installed in the Station wall in 1919, plans were laid to erect a more fitting and complete memorial.
An announcement of where the memorial was to be sited was given on January 18 1921 but it was not until January 1922 that a War Memorial committee was identified to the public in a photograph. There followed a period in which people responded to appeals for donations to the Memorial Fund and such was the state of trade and employment at that time that it took a long while to raise significant funds for the project.
Nevertheless the committee was confident enough to request tenders for construction by July 8 1924 and the contract was awarded to W. Moss Ltd. at a price of £22,250. The job of laying 54,000 Staffordshire, multi-coloured, bricks and installing the stonework was completed Mr. Bruce Denis, foreman of Moss’s and his son, two local men.
The Memorial tower is 13ft 6in. square at its base and rises to a height of 68 feet above pavement level. It is approached by four sets of steps on the north, south, east and west sides, supported by wing walls in local rubble granite leading to a landing around the base of the tower. Names of the fallen are inset on tablets of Cornish granite in lead letters. The tower is equipped with an electric clock having a five feet dial on each face and fitted with striking gear to denote each passing hour.
A final appeal for all the names of the fallen was made on August 15 1924 and the committee made their recommendations by December 12 1924. Eventually the names of 354 of the illustrious dead were immortalized on the tablets at the foot of the Memorial.
The task of raising finance for the project proved to be difficult and with two weeks to go before the opening the Coalville Times reported there was still a shortfall of about £100. However one day before the unveiling, the Times announced the splendid news that the members of the Coalville Cooperative Society, at their quarterly meeting, had agreed to pay the whole of the outstanding debt, whatever it might be.
By early October 1925, almost seven years since the war was concluded, plans for the unveiling were announced. Mrs. Booth of Gracedieu Manor had the honor of performing this duty during a Memorial service held at 2.30pm on October 31 1925 in presence of 10,000 of the town and district’s citizens. The “Coalville” Company of the 5th. Leicestershire Regiment led a procession, headed by the Regimental band. A procession of ex-servicemen and a detachment of C squadron of the Leicestershire Yeomanry marched from Whitwick and another party of ex-servicemen, including twenty-two surviving members of the “First fifty”, was led from the Fox and Goose by Hugglescote and Ellistown Band
The Memorial was formerly handed over to the care of Coalville Urban District Council on behalf of the District