Forbury Hill “not really suitable for the erection of a War Memorial such as would be worthy of the great events which it was now proposed to commemorate”

There was considerable debate over a proposed Berkshire war memorial. This project never came to fruition, as not enough money was raised, and the committee folded in 1922. However, in 1930 a former serviceman who was elected mayor of Reading revived it.

17 November 1919

The secretary reported that Dr Stewart Abram, Mayor of Reading, had acceded to the request to join the committee [and was present at this meeting]. He also reported the death of Mr H C Mylne and it was agreed that Mr Martin, the newly elected Mayor of Wokingham, be asked to take the vacant place on the committee.

The secretary reported that the Town Clerk had written saying that the application for the Forbury Hill site had been considered by the Parks & Pleasure Grounds Committee, and that they have recommended the Town Council to accede to the application of the Berkshire War Memorial Executive Committee. The recommendation above will be considered by the Council on the 4th December.

The site of the Forbury Hill selected for the memorial was criticised by Mr Bates, who pointed out that in all probability the Hill was itself a memorial and that it was not really suitable for the erection of a War Memorial such as would be worthy of the great events which it was now proposed to commemorate. Considerable discussion took place, and it was suggested that a much better position could be found in the Forbury Gardens at the Victoria Gate. Mr Bates moved and Mr Howell seconded

“that the Town Clerk should be informed that on re-consideration and after an inspection of the Forbury Hill and Gardens the Committee feel that it would be undesirable to interfere with the amenities of what they understand is really an Historical Monument. Moreover the Committee finds that any suitable monument erected on the Hill would necessitate much re-modelling of the Gardens and interference with the existing arrangements. In the circumstances the Committee request that the application made in the secretary’s letter of the 24th October be not put forward at the Town Council meeting on the 4th December.”

This was approved unanimously. The secretary was instructed to intimate that a fresh application for another site in the near neighbourhood will probably be forthcoming later on.

The Committee visited the Forbury Gardens in connection with a suggestion made by Mr Bates, supported by Councillor Howell and others, and it was ultimately decided that Mr Benyon, Mr Bates and Councillor Howell be appointed a Sub-committee to prepare a plan of the site in question in order that the matter may be further considered at the next committee meeting.

The secretary reported the issue of posters & record cards as agreed at the last meeting, and the question was raised as to the persons whose names should be recorded. Colonel Barker moved that “the Officers, Non-commissioned Officers and Men who were serving in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and Territorial battalions of the Berkshire Forces when the war broke out, be deemed to be Berkshire men for the purpose of the memorial”. The resolution was seconded by Mr Bates and passed.

The secretary was instructed to return the designs submitted at the last committee meeting, and to express the thanks of the committee to the designers.

Bills for printing and petty expenditure were submitted and passed.

Berkshire War Memorial Committee minutes (R/D134/3/1)

The site for the Berkshire war memorial should be the Forbury Hill

A site was selected for a Berkshire war memorial.

21 October 1919
Executive Committee meeting

Present: J Herbert Benyon, President
Messrs Foley, Bates, Willink, Belcher, Bradbury, Barker, Quelch, Howell, Hayward, Johnson (Town Clerk), Arman (secretary).

The Secretary reported that the land in the Caversham Road, suggested as a possible site, could not be obtained for a lesser sum than £5000. He stated that it was understood that the Forbury Hill site would most likely be granted by the Town Council if desired.

The suggested designs sent in by the undermentioned gentlemen were on view and received consideration:

No. 1. Lt C H Perkins, ARIBA, Bracknell
2. J H Willett, Caversham
3. C B Willcocks, Reading
4. H Hutt, Reading
5. J H Carey & Son, Windsor
6. A N Arman (amateur), Reading
7. F G Belcher (amateur), Reading

A general discussion took place during which a scheme in connection with the new Caversham Bridge was referred to and explained by Mr Howell, and the suggestion was more or less supported by Mr Bates.

It was considered that the committee as a body should view the Exhibition of War Memorials at the Royal Holloway before coming to any conclusion, and it was thought that subsequently it should be debated whether a competitive design should be obtained by offering a premium and throwing the competition open generally, or whether it would be best to place the matter into the hands of some eminent artist to prepare a design and advise generally.

In order that some definite progress be made it was proposed by Councillor Quelch, seconded by Col Barker, that the site for the memorial should be the Forbury Hill in the Forbury Gardens, Reading. Carried.

The secretary was requested to make a formal application to the Town Council for the grant of the site in question. He was also requested to send a report of the committee meeting to the newspapers announcing the decision as to the site (subject to the approval of the Town Council).

Mr Hayward moved, and Mr Bates seconded, that Dr Stewart-Abram, the mayor-elect, be invited to join the committee. Passed unanimously.

The secretary submitted proposals, which were approved by the committee, to print and circulate throughout the county a poster asking that the names of Berkshire men for record on the memorial be sent to the vicars of the respective parishes; that the vicar of each parish in the county be asked to co-operate in obtaining the names of the men for record purposes; to print and circulate the suggested letter to the vicars of parishes together with the record card of which drafts were adopted. Similar applications for co-operation to be sent to the Comrades of the Great War and the Federation of Discharged Sailors & Soldiers.

Berkshire War Memorial Committee minutes (R/D134/3/1)

An Institution in which disabled sailors and soldiers could be taught crafts and trades and thus become able to do useful work would be the best form of memorial

What form should a county-wide memorial take?

1 September 1919

The suggestions as to the form of the memorial put forward by Lady Wantage, Alderman Cox, Brigadier General Wigan, Mr Bartholomew of the Oxford Street Social Club and Lt Col Walsh were considered. None of the suggestions were regarded favourably and the meeting discussed generally what kind of memorial would seem most suitable having regard to the fact that a County Memorial was wanted.

Schemes of a utilitarian nature were favoured by Alderman Martin and also by Councillor Quelch, but each referred to the question of a scheme of the kind having a limited radius of usefulness and could not benefit the whole county. Mr F G Belcher suggested that an Institution in which disabled sailors and soldiers could be taught crafts and trades and thus become able to do useful work would be the best form of memorial. He alluded to the monotony of the lives of these poor men, and the need to do everything possible to provide them with interests in life. As an alternative he suggested the establishment of an Orphanage to benefit the children of the men who had fallen in the war. The Chairman pointed out that in any such Institution the question of endowments to provide an income for its maintenance must be met and also that the need of either kind of Institution would pass away within a limited number of years.

It was proposed by Councillor Quelch and seconded by Alderman Martin, “that in all the circumstances and having regard to the fact that no scheme of a utilitarian nature would be likely to benefit the whole county, this Committee is compelled to fall back on the proposal to erect a suitable monument as a permanent memorial in commemoration of the sailors and soldiers of Berkshire who had lost their lives in the war”. Passed unanimously.

Councillor Quelch proposed and Alderman Martin seconded “that the architects of Berkshire be invited to assist the Committee by submitting, voluntarily, sketch plans of such designs as would in their opinion be suitable for the purpose required.” Passed unanimously.

It was mentioned that some 8000 to 10000 names would require to be inscribed.

The question of site was spoken of, and Councillor Quelch undertook to bring the subject forward at the next meeting of the Markets and Estates Committee of the [Reading] Town Council who would no doubt consider the possibility of assisting the project by offering sites which might be suitable for the building of the monument.

The Secretary was requested to ascertain the terms upon which the triangular piece of land at the junction of Caversham Road and Friar Street could be acquired in the event of its being a fitting position for the memorial.

Berkshire War Memorial Committee minutes (R/D134/3/1)

A memorial commemorative of those who have served in the war as well as those who have lost their lives in it

The great and good of Berkshire gathered to consider a county war memorial. They decided ordinary soldiers should be involved too.

30 July 1919
Meeting of the War Memorial General Committee held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Reading, on the 30th July 1919.

Present
J H Benyon esquire, Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, Chairman
Stanley Hayward esquire, Mayor of Reading, Vice Chairman
Mrs L Hayward, Mayoress of Reading
Col T J Bowles
Louis H Beard esquire, Constable of Hungerford
Councillor W E Collier
F J K Cross esquire
W Dockar Drysdale esquire
Ernest Gardner esquire, MP
Rev F J C Gillmor
S H Hodgkin esquire
Councillor W R Howell
Dr J B Blay
Councillor Edward Jackson
A J Mackay esquire
Councillor Frank E Moring
H C Mylne esquire, Mayor of Wokingham
Councillor Thomas Norris
W Howard Palmer esquire
Major M L Porter
Councillor L E Quelch
F A Sargeant esquire, Deputy Mayor of Reading
Councillor Wm Sparks
Edmund Stevens esquire
E M Sturges esquire
G A Watson esquire
Col George S Willes

The Deputy Clerk of the Berkshire County Council submitted the resolutions adopted at the Public Meeting held on the 22nd July appointing and defining the duties of the Committee.

This being the first meeting of the Committee since their appointment the Committee proceeded to elect a Chairman and Vice Chairman, when J H Benyon esquire, Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, was elected to be Chairman and Stanley Hayward esquire, Mayor of Reading, was elected to be Vice Chairman.

The Deputy Clerk of the Berkshire County Council read apologies for absence from the following:

Lady Wantage
Col F W Foley
Brigadier General J E Wigan
Alderman F A Cox
Lt Col Leslie Wilson MP
P E Crutchley esquire
W Crosland esquire
Col J C Carter
W Carter esquire, Mayor of Windsor
Sir Geo Young, bart
Major C W Darby-Griffith
C Adrian Hawker esquire
Rev W M Rawlinson
F A Simonds esquire
Mrs G S Abram

The Committee then considered the appointment of a secretary and
Resolved: That, if he be willing to act, Mr E W J Arman, late Postmaster of Reading, be appointed Honorary Secretary to the Committee.

The Deputy Clerk of the Berkshire County Council submitted a letter, dated 28th July, which the Town Clerk of Reading had received from Col F W Foley, expressing the opinion that more members of the rank and file of the many battalions of the Royal Berkshire Regiment should serve on the Committee, and, upon consideration thereof,

It was Resolved: That three nominations of NCOs or men for representation on the Committee be invited from each of the following:

1. The regular battalions of the Royal Berkshire Regiment.
2. The Berkshire Territorial Force Association.
3. The Comrades of the Great War.
4. The Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers.


[An Executive Committee was appointed]

It was decided that it be a recommendation to the Executive Committee to frame their scheme and inscription as commemorative of those who have served in the war as well as those who have lost their lives in it.

It was decided that the suggestions received from Lady Wantage, Brigadier General J T Wigan, Alderman Cox, Lt Col Walsh and others as to the form which the memorial should take be referred to the Executive Commmittee for their consideration.

The question of the desirability of limiting the amount of individual subscriptions was considered but no resolution upon the subject was passed.

Berkshire War Memorial Committee minutes (R/D134/3/1)