Matt Mills has shared this information and photographs.
Wolverhampton’s landscape had a First World War memorial created that is located on the Birmingham New Road at Lanesfield. Importantly, the Tree Avenue of Remembrance is believed to be the longest surviving near-complete row of trees, and is located in Wolverhampton’s section of Coseley between Rookery Road and just south of Meadow Lane. Both Dudley and Wolverhampton Councils have re-planted along the Birmingham New Road in recent years, with Dudley Council planting all the way to the historic Coseley Council boundary at Priory Road.
All the trees from Parkfield Road to Priory Road make up the Avenue of Remembrance, some are original (1928) and some are replacements, either planted while Coseley Council still existed or more recently planted by Dudley and Wolverhampton.
Living memorials to those who died in war – A short talk by Jim Barrow-
After the mass slaughter and trauma of the Great War, people cast around for ways to remember those who served, died or were injured. In Wolverhampton, as well as memorials of stone, brick, wood, metal and rolls of honour, the Mayor wanted to plant hundreds of trees to become tributes to those who fell.
The first 30 plantings in All Saints Road, All Saints, Wolverhampton were paid for by pupils, parents and staff of All Saints, St Joseph’s and Dudley Road Schools. Each tree was planted by three pupils elected by fellow pupils on March 22nd, 1920.
On Monday November 10, 1919, Dunstall Ward Councillor Thomas Austin Henn was elected mayor and said he would ask for money to plant 1,000 trees, “chiefly in the streets of the town which were drab and dreary monotony, the planting of them to be an honour, a mark of distinction for children of their schools who had excelled in conduct or progress of both.” (Express & Star, Monday 10 November, 1919).
He said it would cost £1,200 – nearly £61,500 in today’s prices – with it being raised by the planters themselves – in effect the people of Wolverhampton and particularly pupils, parents and staff of schools.
The first plantings were described in the Wolverhampton Chronicle of March 24, 1920: “Each school planted ten plane trees and they were placed in All Saints Road where a large number of people assembled.
At each tree three children officiated and declared: ‘this tree to be well and truly planted in memory of the brave men who died to make the world freer and brighter.”
The Mayor said: “If we go on as we are doing we shall be helping to make the whole town, especially the outlying portions, very much more beautiful.”He told the children that to have a beautiful town required “beautiful citizens, and I am looking to you to grow up to be beautiful citizens, loving those things which make life beautiful.”
At All Saints Church the WW1 memorial records the names of 91 men from the area who died including Horace Belcher of 247, All Saints Road, the son of Joseph and Mary Ann Belcher, was an assistant at the Free Library who enlisted in the 2nd/3rd Brigade of the North Midland Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps. He died, aged 21, on 27 September 1917 in the third battle of Ypres – Passchendaele. His body was never found and his name is on Panel 160 of the Tyne Cot Memorial to the missing, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, along with 35,000 other Commonwealth troops who died between August 1917 and November 1918.
On the 31 March 1920 pupils from Bingley Street, St Mark’s and Brickkiln Street Schools planted a combination of London Plane and fir trees at Walford Avenue, near what is now Bantock House and Park and on the same day pupils from Red Cross Street Schools planted sapling on the Stafford Road
On the afternoon of Wednesday 28 June children from Old Hall Street, Walsall Street and Willenhall Road Schools planted a further 36 trees.In October the pupils of the Higher Grade School – now the Newhampton Arts Centre at the junction of Newhampton Road and Dunkley Street, Whitmore Reans – planted 11 trees in Dunkley Street and the pupils of St Jude’s School planted 38 trees in Avondale Road and 4 in Riches Street, Whitmore Reans.
On 10 November 1920, a year to the day after Mayor Henn introduced his scheme, the Unknown Soldiers’ synchronised burials were held in London and Paris. A commemoration service and two minutes’ silence was held in the centre of Wolverhampton, and 12 trees were planted by pupils nearby in Old Hall Street.
There are still trees along All Saints Road today – a legacy of the original plantings – along with others that were planted in nearby Vicarage Road, and Mason Street, by Dudley Road Schools.
Mayor James Thompson saw pupils from St John’s and Graiseley Schools plant 14 trees in St John’s Square and 20 in streets surrounding Blakenhall Recreation Ground on 3 November 1922. The annual report of the Council Education Committee that year said:
Several schools are collecting and it is hoped to shortly complete the scheme by the planting of a further 80 trees. It is encouraging to find that the children in all parts of the town have redeemed their promises to protect the trees from ill-usage. The planting of the trees, in most cases under the name of the individual fallen men, has contributed much to the respect with which the trees are regarded.
The Parks and Baths Committee minutes of 9 November 1926 reported the planting of 56 trees by schoolchildren in Thompson Avenue and Silver Birch Avenue and 50 trees on Old Heath Road and Willenhall Road Housing Estate.
Jim Barrow has written a chapter called ‘Roads of Remembrance in Wolverhampton – How trees were used to commemorate the fallen of the Great War’ in the Wolverhampton Society’s new book Wolverhampton’s Great War 1914-1921, a copy of which can be purchased through the Shop on their website.
LET US KEEP IN GRATEFUL/ REMEMBRANCE THOSE WHO HAVE/ DIED FOR US AND THEIR COUNTRY/ 1914-1919./ (Names)/ R.I.P.
Let us keep in grateful remembrance those who have died for us and their country 1914-1919. (names) R.I.P.
On 22 Mar 1920, the Mayor of Wolverhampton, Thomas Austin Henn, oversaw the planting of First World War Memorial trees in All Saints Road, Wolverhampton. We will be commemorating the centenary of this event by planting fruit trees at the All Saints Action Network (ASAN). As Sunday 22 March is also Mother’s Day, we will be celebrating with cake!
Come and join the current Mayor of Wolverhampton, Mayor Claire Darke, along with Mayor Henn’s grandson and other representatives of the Community (including local history researcher Jim Barrow) for a free brunch, live music, home-made cakes, samosas and a selection of snacks. Everyone is welcome to this free event. Please register on the Eventbrite link so we have an idea of numbers for catering.
The event will start at 11 am, and take place:
All Saints Action Network (ASAN), The Workspace, All Saints Road, Wolverhampton WV2 1EL
Mary Susanna Pothan was born in Wellington, Shropshire, in 1854, and was baptised Mary Jane Pothan at Wroxter in 1859. She married John Caddick in Wolverhampton in 1885, and the couple went on to have seven children – George Henry, Elizabeth Susan, Fred, Mary Lilian, Frank, Ethel, and Annie. Annie was born on 14 September 1902. The family were living at 8 Gordon Street, Wolverhampton in 1911.
Both women served with the British Red Cross during the First World War, serving in the workrooms at Gresham Chambers. They were engaged on 15 March 1918, and worked until 1 February 1919. By this date, Mary was living at 138 Court Road and Annie was living at 204 Newhampton Road West, Wolverhampton.
Mary died in Wolverhampton in 1935. Annie married Edward W. Ford in Wolverhampton in 1932, and the couple had a son, Alan E., born in Wolverhampton in 1933. Annie died in Wolverhampton in 1975.
Wolverhampton’s Great War 1914-1921 A new publication Zeppelin air-raids, Hospital treatment of battle casualties, The impact of the ‘Spanish ‘flu’, The Sankey family Planting of trees as war memorials. Case-studies of local service personnel – Wulfrunians- national heroes: Roland Elcock and Douglas Harris.
Wolverhampton’s Great War,1914-1921 written by Wulfrunians: Jim Barrow Mark Cooper Ben Cunliffe John Hale Heidi McIntosh Mick Powis Richard Pursehouse Beverley Reynolds Roy Stallard David Taylor John Thomas Chris Twiggs
On Friday 13 September 2019 Outside Centre celebrated a crowdfunded project that successfully raise over £3000 to restore three WW1 memorials in the City of Wolverhampton. This was a Heritage Open Day event in the Wolverhampton City Suite, hosted by the Mayor of Wolverhampton.
Two of the memorials from Wolverhampton Art Gallery have been restored, and the third, the Street Shrine memorial in Thornley Street, is in the process of being restored. This event celebrated the City treasures in the Mayoral Suite, as well as saying thank you to those who engaged and contributed to this First World War commemoration project and events. The event included an exhibition, a walk and presentations on the all restored memorials: Wolverhampton City Council’s Head of Arts and Culture, Marguerite Nugent, spoke, along with University of Wolverhampton PhD student Claire Jones. Claire shared her research on the Street Shrine, which will be published in a book later in the year.
Big thank you to The National Heritage Fund and Awards For All for their support in funding projects, enabling the development of a map of war memorials across the city and tree planting – an exciting chance to learn and discover the history of Wolverhampton’s World War One story and how it has been incorporated into our city’s landscape.
Walter was born in Claverley, Shropshire, in about 1875, the son of William Cliff. Walter married Kate Rowe in St Thomas, Devon, and by 1901, Walter was living with his wife at 23 Merridale Road, Wolverhampton. Walter was working as a publican’s barman. They were at 6 Market Street, Wolverhampton, in 1911, and Walter was the manager of a beer house. The couple had two children – Maud Mary and Walter Leonard.
Walter does not appear to have done any military service during the First World War. However, he did serve locally as a special constable for Wolverhampton Borough Council. Unfortunately, he did not survive the war, as he died in 1915.
The son of Sarah and Henry E. Clayton, Robert was born in Condover, Shropshire on 8 November 1881. From 23 August 1897 onwards, he worked as a clerk for the London & North Western Railway Company. In 1904, he married Harriet Elizabeth Merrick in Wolverhampton, and by 1911 they were living at 163 Caledonia Street, off Steelhouse Lane, Wolverhampton, along with their three children Marjorie, Albert Henry and Jessie. Robert was still working as a Clerk for the Railway Company.
Robert does not appear to have enlisted for military service during the First World War. From the outbreak of war, he served as an Orderly for the British Red Cross, doing transport work from the station to the General Hospital in Wolverhampton, doing orderly duty there and at Red Cross Drives, concerts etc, and air raid duty at Bilston Road Air Raid station. He also assisted in the instruction of two First Aid and two Home Nursing classes.
By 1939 Robert was still working as a railway clerk, living at 55 Riches Street with his wife and children Jessie and Iris. Robert died in Wolverhampton in 1962 at the age of 81.