Memorial garden soldier is restored to his former glory

Dedication and unveiling of new head on memorial statue to the unknown soldier, Mytholmroyd.
Dedication and unveiling of new head on memorial statue to the unknown soldier, Mytholmroyd.

CELEBRATIONS marked the unveiling of a statue’s new head.

The original top of the memorial soldier in Mytholmroyd Memorial Garden disappeared in 1992.

Local stonemason Andy Barraclough quickly replaced it with a temporary carving but the soldier had been waiting for a permanent new head ever since.

Now the new head has been added to the statue and was revealed at a special ceremony at the gardens, preceded by a procession from St Michael’s Square.

The dedication was organised by Royd Regeneration and Calderdale Council.

Barbara Jeffrey, whose father Gilbert Hartley opened the garden in July 1922, carried out the unveiling.

She said: “I never imagined I would follow in my father’s footsteps in this way.

“It is a great honour to unveil the statue that commemorates those who never came home.

“Many local people were very upset when the original head was stolen.”

The new head was sculpted by John Swift from West Riding Stone Carvers.

After the ceremony there was 1940s music and war time food at St Michael’s Church Hall.

There was also a commemorative booklet on show recording the names and photos of all the fallen from Mytholmroyd, based on an idea by Annie Greenwood who, between 1914 and 1918, cut pictures of the men she knew who had gone to war and stuck them in an exercise book.

The new booklet was compiled by Jade Smith, who said: “I felt very humbled by the dedication shown by Mrs Greenwood and wanted to honour that piece of personal yet social history by making something similar available to the village.”

Royd Regeneration has also teamed up with Pennine Horizons who have several photographs of un-named soldiers and nurses who went to war.

Frank Woolrych, from Pennine Horizons, said: “It would be a great help to us if we could get members of the public to identify people in these photos.”