The Hoylake and West Kirby War Memorial
Its dramatic setting at the top of Grange Hill, with views out to Liverpool Bay, Liverpool, Wales and the surrounding areas, provides an impressive sense of monumentality and acts as a fitting tribute to those commemorated
The monument consists of a round-topped granite obelisk on a rendered masonry (possibly concrete) plinth. The plinth and shaft buttresses feature extensive inscriptions (both carved and inset lead letters) listing the names of the fallen, dates and epitaphs. There are two bronze statues of exceptional quality. One statue represents a soldier of rough and rugged character. The other is of a woman and baby, incorporating a wealth of symbolism and representing humanity. The soldier holds a gun; its bayonet is kept in safe storage to prevent loss or damage.
The location is dramatic, on heathland at Grange Hill on the northerly tip of the west Wirral sandstone ridge, giving expansive views over the Wirral, Liverpool Bay, the North Wales coast and Dee Estuary. It sits on an outcrop of the sandstone and is surrounded by a paved platform and railings. A sunken area (possibly a former quarry) contains a rough lawn and some ornamental shrub planting and benches, surrounded by gorse and other heathland vegetation. The monument is listed Grade II*.
The rendered plinth appears to have been much altered. Early photographs do not show the current overhanging slab capping, (one rather unclear image could be interpreted as showing the plinth with rounded ends). The render itself is quite modern, with galvanised metal drip beads at the base and granite chippings dashed into plain OPC render. Additional plaques have been added around the base to accommodate the names of personnel lost in more recent conflicts. The railings are painted and galvanised steel, with a simple blunt tapered arrowhead finial. The railings sweep upwards at the corners and the two central panels on the main West elevation open outwards like gates, to give uninterrupted views during ceremonies. Otherwise, the monument appears unaltered and retains all its original features.
Commemoration of war dead
First World War (1914-1918)
Second World War (1939-1945)
Korean War (1950-1953)
Cyprus Emergency (1955-1959)
Iraq War (2003-2011)
Building the war memorial
There was an enormous output of memorial sculpture in the early 1920s as every community sought to raise a memorial to the men and women they had lost in the First World War. These ranged from representations of traditionally heroic soldiers to simpler, more abstract forms that acknowledged, perhaps, the unspeakable qualities of the war. The most famous was the Cenotaph, designed by Edwin Lutyens, in London’s Whitehall.
Choosing a sculptor
Early in March, 1919, the vice-chairmen (Sir James Hope Simpson and Mr. John E. Perrin) and the hon. treasurer (Sir Alfred Paton, K.B.E.) were asked to consult the Royal Academy, London, with a view to obtaining the best possible advice as to the selection of a sculptor for the monument. At the Royal Academy they met Sir George Frampton, R.A., who had been appointed by the Academy to advise the committee in the matter, and in whom no more competent authority could be found. Without hesitation he recommended a pupil of the late Professor Lanteri, Lieut. C.S. Jagger, M.C., who during the war was an officer in the Royal Artillery, afterwards resuming his work as a sculptor in London. Lieut. Jagger had already made a name for himself by winning the Grand Prix de Romo in 1914, and had since the war been commissioned by the Government authorities to execute for the Imperial War Museum, a work in relief representing the counter-attack of the 2nd Worcesters at Gheluvelt, in the first battle of Ypres, which, like the bronze figures on the Grange Hill monument, was subsequently exhibited at the Royal Academy.
The sub-committee visited Lieut. Jagger’s studio, and were impressed with the high character of his work, and on their return strongly recommended Lieut. Jagger to the Executive Committee as likely to produce a memorial that, in conception and completion, would well represent the tribute, which everyone felt, should be paid to the heroic dead. Lieut. Jagger was accepted as sculptor for the War Memorial, and a Monument Sub-Committee was appointed. During 1919 many meetings were held, including a number on Grange Hill, and finally it was unanimously agreed to accept the design submitted by Lieut. Jagger. It need hardly be said that the work of the sculptor has given the highest satisfaction and merited a great volume of praise. The monument, while being the pride of Deeside, is the envy of larger places for many miles around.
Hoylake & West Kirby War Memorial was erected in 1922 to the designs of Messrs Hall & Glover, architects, and the renowned War Memorial sculptor, Charles Sargeant Jagger, who began working on the commission in 1919. The memorial was produced at the foundry of Messrs A.B. Burton and cost approximately £7,500. The obelisk measures 49 m in depth, 13.65 m high and 10.030 m wide and built from granite, that was likely to have been quarried on Grange Hill. The war memorial was Jagger’s first monument after previously designing two massive bronze reliefs entitled ‘The First Battle of Ypres ‘1918-1919’ (now in the Imperial War Museum) and ‘No Man’s Land’ 1919-1923 (presented to the Tate in 1923).
Charles Sargeant Jagger (17 December 1885 – 16 November 1934) was a British sculptor who, following active service in the First World War, sculpted many works on the theme of war. He is best known for his war memorials, especially the Royal Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park Corner and the Great Western Railway War Memorial in Paddington Railway Station, both of which are in London, and he also designed several other monuments around Britain and other parts of the world. The ‘Soldier on Defence’ figure, which forms a key part of the Hoylake & West Kirby War Memorial was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1921, and it led to many commissions for Jagger around the world, including the Grade II* listed Royal Artillery Memorial, which was erected at Hyde Park Corner, London in 1925. A re-casting of the ‘Soldier on Defence’ was also subsequently used as part of the ‘Driver and Wipers’ memorial at the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, Australia.
Compton A. (2004) ‘Jagger, Charles Sargeant (1885-1934)’, in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Available on http:www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/34146
Pevsner N. & Hubbard E. (2003) The Buildings of England: Cheshire Penguin First Edition edition (1971)
Description of War Memorial
Cornish granite and natural red sandstone platform, inlaid bronze lettering, additional WWII and later conflict inscriptions added later. Colossal four-sided, shouldered obelisk with curved top, set upon a stepped granite base and massive T-shaped pedestal.
Front (west) face of obelisk: Larger than life-size bronze figure of a robed woman representing ‘Humanity’ standing on top of a globe, set upon a squat, cross-shaped granite plinth and square pedestal inscribed with the dates ‘1914 – 1919’.
Hanging from her wrists are broken chains and she is holding a wreath of twigs and poppies. Her head rests against a pillow of lilies and above her chest is a small oval form (mandorla) containing a baby, which looks down at the viewer through the wreath.
The Obelisk’s curved shoulders flanking the lower half of the figure are inscribed with the names of those killed during WWI. Further inscribed names are to the north and south faces of obelisk. There is a granite plaque to centre of pedestal below ‘Humanity’ with inscription reading
‘AT THE CALL OF KING AND COUNTRY THEY LEFT ALL THAT WAS DEAR TO THEM, ENDURED HARDNESS, FACED DANGER, AND FINALLY PASSED OUT OF THE SIGHT OF MEN BY THE PATH OF DUTY AND SELF SACRIFICE, GIVING UP THEIR OWN LIVES THAT OTHERS MIGHT LIVE IN FREEDOM
LET THOSE WHO COME AFTER SEE TO IT THAT THEIR NAMES BE NOT FORGOTTEN’.
A small plaque beneath records the dates ‘1939 – 1945’. Larger plaques to the flanking pedestal arms are inscribed with the names of those killed during WWII.
A further plaque to rear (east) face of southern pedestal arm is inscribed with names of those killed in conflicts since WWII, There is a blank plaque to rear (east) face of north pedestal arm.
The rear (east) face of obelisk: Larger than life-size bronze figure of a soldier (‘Soldier on Defence’) representing redemption and sacrifice, standing legs astride and dressed in full battle attire, including a gas mask, putties, water bottle and with his helmet pushed back off his head. He is carrying a rifle horizontally across his waist and at his feet is a German helmet lying in mud. The bayonet from the soldier’s rifle is kept in storage but is returned for Armistice Day memorial services and is an integral part of the composition.
The base of the obelisk is stepped to eastern side, and an inscription below ‘Soldier on Defence’ reads
‘IN GRATITUDE TO GOD AND TO THE MEN AND WOMEN FROM THESE PARTS
WHO LAID DOWN THEIR LIVES IN THE GREAT WAR 1914 – 1919 – 1939 – 1945
THEY WERE A WALL UNTO US BOTH BY NIGHT AND DAY’.
The last two sentences of Rudyard Kipling’s poem, ‘For All We Have And Are’ are carved into obelisk faces above the figures. Starting on the east face of the obelisk in an anti-clockwise direction is the inscription with a sunken background that reads ‘WHO STANDS IF FREEDOM FALL WHO DIES IF ENGLAND LIVE’.
“For All We Have And Are” (Rudyard Kipling 1914)
For all we have and are,
For all our children’s fate,
Stand up and take the war.
The Hun is at the gate!
Our world has passed away,
In wantonness o’erthrown.
There is nothing left to-day
But steel and fire and stone!
Though all we knew depart,
The old Commandments stand:-
“In courage kept your heart,
In strength lift up your hand.”
Once more we hear the word
That sickened earth of old:—
“No law except the Sword
Unsheathed and uncontrolled.”
Once more it knits mankind,
Once more the nations go
To meet and break and bind
A crazed and driven foe.
Comfort, content, delight,
The ages’ slow-bought gain,
They shrivelled in a night.
Only ourselves remain
To face the naked days
In silent fortitude,
Through perils and dismays
Renewed and re-renewed.
Though all we made depart,
The old Commandments stand:—
“In patience keep your heart,
In strength lift up your hand.”
No easy hope or lies
Shall bring us to our goal,
But iron sacrifice
Of body, will, and soul.
There is but one task for all—
One life for each to give.
What stands if Freedom fall?
Who dies if England live?
The entire memorial is set upon a natural red sandstone platform and is enclosed by black railings. A stair flight is carved into the natural bedrock to the north-west corner and there is a small paved platform enclosed by black railings to the west side from which memorial services are led.
A Memorial garden comprising of a large grassed area with planted shrubs and bushes lies to west side below memorial.
Reasons for Grade II designation (24-Mar-2011)
Hoylake & West Kirby War Memorial, erected in 1922 to the designs of the architects, Hall & Glover and the sculptor, Charles Sargeant Jagger, is designated at grade II* for the following principal reasons: * Artist: it was designed by the internationally renowned War Memorial sculptor, Charles Sargeant Jagger and represents his first monument commission where he established his approach to figuration used on his subsequent memorials, including the Royal Artillery Memorial, Hyde Park Corner, London * Design quality: it is a powerful monument with a superior level of design and craftsmanship incorporating a colossal shouldered obelisk with a pairing of realist and symbolic larger than life-size bronze figures, ‘Humanity’ and ‘Soldier on Defence’, representing redemption, sacrifice and heroism * Artistic interest: both figures have significant artistic interest; ‘Soldier on Defence’ , in particular, is a rugged and masculine figure in the pose of a human shield that contrasts sharply with the romantic and idealistic portrayals of other sculptors of the period, and references the manual workers and working-class (‘worker-soldiers’) that Jagger believed were fundamental to Britain’s success in WWI * Historic & commemorative interest: it has strong cultural and historic significance within a local and national context, and forms a poignant reminder of the effects of tragic world events on this local community * Setting: its dramatic setting at the top of Grange Hill, with views out to Liverpool Bay, Liverpool, Wales and the surrounding areas, provides an impressive sense of monumentality and acts as a fitting tribute to those commemorated.
Ref: Historic England
List entry Number: 1116883
Imperial War Musuems Register © WMR-1273