ID: WMM_1990 / Ron Baldwin

TitleRefurbishing West Mersea War Memorial
AbstractOn 22 September 1917, West Mersea had made and erected its War Memorial, which was dedicated on that day. The stem or the centre post carried the names of Mersea dead. As the death toll in that war rose, the memorial had to be extended into the more familiar shape at the base that we all know, with many more names being added. Still more after the Second World War. Let us hope that we never have to further extend the memorial. In the last few years, various repairs and renovations have been carried out, but it became obvious at the end of 1989 that a thorough re-work was required, and in 1990 the Branch Committee of the Royal British Legion decided on a complete refurbishment. The Branch Committee asked one of our members, Mr [ Nigel ] Pickering to assist in this repair. He immediately offered his services as a volunteer, i.e. free. Mr Tom Hannan was to liaise and work on the project, again free. Other members then came in with help and used their own transport. These were Messrs Jack Wright, Terry Smith, and John Firth. Demolition of the old War Memorial base was carried out, an assessment of requirements was made.

The Legion had always kept a fund for the repair and maintenance of the War Memorial, but insufficient funds for this particular project. The late Captain Freddie Wish, President of the Legion Club and Branch, set about collecting cash. Organisations and individuals gave freely. Well done to all. Freddie spent many of his last hours working on this project. Once the money was available, materials were bought or obtained and the work proceeded. The names on the base panels were retained but the cross-arm at the top had to be replaced, so the lettering was sawn off and a new piece of timber was dovetailed and the old lettering inserted in the slot. The stem was rotten at its base and was replaced completely, but the original names which had been covered by panels were still there and this piece can be seen at the Royal British Legion if anybody wants to. After all the machine work had been done, and Tom Hannan and team had prepared the site, the cross apex roof required re-covering, the old asbestos tiles being u/s. They had only lasted 73 years. Mr Mick Lawton was asked to do this part, he straightway did the job and supplied the material, again, free. Now, it is a lead roof, and to my mind, the workmanship is tip-top, as is all the rest of the work; a labour of love done by Mersea men for Mersea men.
Back at the site, material had been supplied and delivered by Mr Jones, the Club Chairman, whilst the reinforcing cage was made and supplied by Mr Jeff Sexton, need I add, free. Extra volunteers assisted with erection of the main stem, Messrs Willie Baines, 'Stompey' Shubert, Ken Mole, whose wife brewed up, After 10 days the cement had dried, the panel box was lifted and lowered over the stem by a mobile crane which happened to come by. The roof received the same treatment. Well done Les. Everything was waterproofed by the latest methods and assembly took place. Thanks again to Mr Pickering.
Thus, if you come back in 50 years time, it should all still be standing, let us hope again, with no more names added.

Other members who volunteered and helped as required were Messrs Peter Lawton, Peter Sales, Phil Morgan, John Everett, Fred Berry and many others. A photographic record was made as the work progressed; Mr Tom Hannan has the negatives if anybody requires copies. It is a marvellous job, well done, and Mersea can be very proud of it. We are to re-dedicate the Memorial on Sunday 16th September at 3pm with the Revd. John Swallow officiating.

Transcribed from Lions Talking Magazine 144 October 1990.

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West Mersea War Memorial

AuthorRon Baldwin
PublishedSeptember 1990
SourceMersea Museum
Related Images:
 Work on West Mersea War Memorial. Tom Hannan and Nigel Pickering  PAT_WMM_003
ImageID:   PAT_WMM_003
Title: Work on West Mersea War Memorial. Tom Hannan and Nigel Pickering
Date:cSeptember 1990
Source:Mersea Museum / Pat Kirby