World War One centenary: Croydon war memorials testament to town's sacrifice

Prominent: Croydon War Memorial

Prominent: Croydon War Memorial

First published in News
Last updated
Croydon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

The nation joined in collective reflection on the devastating impact and cost of World War One today on the centenary of its declaration.

Reminders of the sacrifice made by the men and women of Croydon during the Great War can be found across the borough at both prominent and lesser-trodden sites.

The most famous of them sits by the clocktower in Katherine Street, where two figures - one a soldier bandaging his arm, the other grieving widow holding her child as she learns of her husband’s death - symbolise the impact and effort of war at both home and on the frontline.  

The Croydon War Memorial was designed by architect James Burford and sculpted by Paul Montford and unveiled October 22 1921, three years after the end of the war.  

Inscribed on the memorial are the words: "A tribute to the men and women of Croydon who died and suffered and in memory of those who lost their lives in wars and conflicts since."

Croydon Guardian:

Promenade de Verdun

While that memorial sits unmissible in the centre of Croydon, overlooking the town hall, a lesser-known and less conspicuous tribute in Purley could be overlooked even by the few who see it. 

The Promenade de Verdun, in Purley's exclusive Webb Estate, was laid in 1923 by chartered surveyor William Webb in recognition of British and French soliders who lost their lives in a bloody 1914 battle.

Webb had 10 tons of soil shipped from the Field of Explosion, the site of the battle near Armentieres, in the hope of improving Anglo-French relations. 

The soil was so laden with shrapnel and bullets that two sacks of missiles were extracted before it was used to create a grass verge and avenue of trees on the 587-yard road, overlooked by a tall obelisk, in the estate that bears Webb's name.

Cemeteries in Mitcham Road, where 344 casulaties are buried, Queen's Road, where lie 180, and St Peter's Church in South Croydon, all provide a stark reminder of the war's toll.

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