Chorley reveals First World War memorial plans

Garden designer John Everiss
Garden designer John Everiss
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A memorial garden, a new exhibition and memorials to the Chorley Pals are all planned as the town remembers the end of the First World War.

Astley Park is to be the site of a new garden of reflection.

Images such as this are the inspiration behind the sculpture planned for the garden of reflection in Chorley's Walled Garden

Images such as this are the inspiration behind the sculpture planned for the garden of reflection in Chorley's Walled Garden

Meanwhile the Chorley Pals Memorial Trust will be playing a major part in the town’s commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice which ended the fighting in the First World War.

The Trust’s project, called Chorley 100, will include a wide range of activities such as talks, concerts and exhibitions.

It will also see the redevelopment of the Chorley Pals Memorial site on Union Street, unveiled in February 2010.

The statue which is to be illuminated will be complete by the end of October, in time for Remembrance Sunday.

Plaque commemorating the Chorley Pals to go on Chorley railway station

Plaque commemorating the Chorley Pals to go on Chorley railway station

The garden of reflection will be designed by award-winning garden designer John Everiss, whose grandfather fought in the First World War.

He said: “I am working with the sculptor Thompson Dagnall to create a life-sized sculpture of a soldier sitting down taking a moment to reflect.

“He will be in uniform and will be holding a bugle. He’s about to go over the top and he’s having a moment of reflection.

“There will also be quite a strong educational element. The garden will feature sand stone walls with flint from the Somme and bricks from Passendale in Belgium. We want to make it tactile for students.

“A pathway which will run through the garden will represent the path the troops walked as they went into battle with the same clay black pavers that they would have walked on.”

As part of the project John will also be making a timelapse film of the garden as it is built and has plans to travel to France in April to create a film about the First World War.

Council chiefs say the project, funded by the Armed Forces Covenant fund, will be a lasting tribute to all those who lost their lives in the conflict.

Chorley MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle said: “The people of Chorley our rightly proud of this town’s contribution to the First World War, the Chorley Pals fought heroically and I think that a Garden of Reflection in Astley Park is another good way to remember them.”

Commenting on the town’s extensive programme of events, Steve Williams said: “We are pleased and honoured to play our part in the town’s commemorations of the Armistice, having been so heavily involved over the last ten years commemorating Chorley’s involvement in the First World War with the Pals Memorial and ‘Chorley Remembers’ project.”

During the summer plaques will be erected on Chorley railway station and at the Army Reserve Centre to commemorate the Chorley Pals and Chorley Terriers.

A new exhibition about the First World War highlighting the Borough’s involvement at home and at the Front is being finalised for the Coach House at Astley Hall.

An Armistice Concert featuring music from Leyland Band plus monologues and poetry from the war is planned for the evening of Sunday, November 11.

Finally the Chorley in The Great War group have a number of talks running between May and November and will be presenting a talk on Sunday, November 4 at St. Laurence’s Church entitled “The Road to the Armistice”.

Back at Chorley Council, bosses say the ‘Garden of Reflection’ will also be a major new attraction at the town’s award-winning Chorley Flower Show on July 28 and 29.

Councillor Peter Wilson, deputy leader of the borough’s authority, said: “We’re continually looking to improve Astley Park to make it one of the top tourist attractions in the North West and we’re really excited about these plans.

“We have been looking to create an outdoor performance area and this ties in really well with the flower show and the timing means it is fitting for the design to be based around reflection given it is 100 years since the end of the First World War.

“If approved it will be built in time for this year’s award-winning Chorley Flower Show and I’m sure it will attract thousands of people from across the North West into Chorley.

“We’re delighted to be working with John Everiss who is not only a local resident but one of the best in the country at creating spaces like this.”

The planning application will be determined in the coming weeks and if approved work would start in June.