Shepley War memorial was erected in 1921, after the First World War, to the design of the sculptor J Swift of Doncaster. Bronze cast by Messrs Benton Brothers at the Rodley Lane Foundry, Sheffield. Further inscriptions were added after the Second World War.
Location Description: Situated in woodland beyond the recreation grounds off Firth Street, south-east of Shepley.
Reasons for Designation
Shepley War Memorial, erected in 1921 to the design of the sculptor J Swift, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* for the finely-crafted bronze figure of an infantry soldier in full service dress with rifle and backpack, solemnly stood with head bowed facing the village of Shepley.
* as a poignant reminder of the tragic impact of world events on the local community, and the sacrifice it made during the First and Second World Wars, and subsequent conflicts.
The aftermath of the First World War saw a huge wave of public commemoration with tens of thousands of memorials erected across the country. One such memorial was erected in 1921 to commemorate the residents of Shepley who served during the conflict: there are 261 men recorded on the memorial. A total of 53 men were killed during the conflict (three are not recorded on the memorial). The first mention of a memorial was at a meeting of the local Peace Celebration Committee in October 1919. In the following December it was agreed to canvass the village for subscriptions towards the cost of erecting a memorial. There was a generous response and within a few weeks local residents had donated about £1,000. Following further meetings and discussions regarding the design and location of the memorial, the sculptor J Swift of Doncaster was appointed to erect the memorial on an elevated site on the recreation ground south-east of the village; a site chosen so that the bronze statue of a soldier could look out upon Shepley. The bronze was cast by Messrs Benton Brothers at the Rodley Lane Foundry, Sheffield. It was built in a setting surrounded by pathways and ornamental trees and shrubs. Materials were hauled by hand by the villagers themselves. The memorial was unveiled by Brigadier-General R E Sugden during a ceremony on 25 June 1921. It began with a procession from the village to the memorial led by the military band of the 5th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s Regiment followed by clergy and ministers, dignitaries, veterans, relatives of the Fallen, local school children and the general public. Upon reaching the memorial, the hymn ‘Our God, Our Help in Ages Past’ was sung before a dedication was given by Reverend W R G Kirby. The memorial was then unveiled and buglers sounded the Last Post.
A further inscription was added to the memorial following the Second World War to commemorate those who served and lost their lives during that conflict. Two of the plaques on the memorial were stolen in the 1970s and subsequently replaced. An additional plaque with a further name was added in 2004. In 2014, to mark the centenary of the First World War, a project on the memorial was undertaken by the Shepley Village Association. Restoration work was funded by the War Memorials Trust, Kirklees Rural District Committee, Woodland Trust and local benefactors. The memorial was cleaned and the area around it was restored by volunteers, including the resurfacing of the surrounding tarmac with gravel, re-laying of the kerb stones, re-planting of the surrounding shrubberies, donation of a hardwood bench, and improvements to the approach through the surrounding woodland. A new bronze plaque was added to the memorial to commemorate those who have lost their lives or been affected by subsequent conflicts with the inscription: ‘Honouring those who stand and suffer in conflict’. A book was also published at this time recording the history of the First World War servicemen whose names appear on the memorial (see Sources).
War memorial. Erected in 1921, after the First World War, to the design of the sculptor J Swift of Doncaster. Bronze cast by Messrs Benton Brothers at the Rodley Lane Foundry, Sheffield. Further inscriptions added after the Second World War.
MATERIALS: Cornish granite pedestal, plinth and base, a bronze statue and bronze plaques.
DESCRIPTION: the war memorial is situated in an elevated position near the recreation grounds south-east of Shepley. It comprises a bronze statue surmounting a tapered Cornish granite pedestal, plinth and stepped base. The statue is an infantry soldier in full service dress; boots, puttee, uniform, webbing, ammunition pouches, flask, backpack and helmet, holding a rifle with a fixed bayonet in the rest position. He stands with his head bowed solemnly facing the village of Shepley. The pedestal has a moulded base, string course and cornice. On the front (north-west) face of the pedestal is a bronze plaque with the following inscription in raised lettering ERECTED TO THE GRATEFUL MEMORY OF OUR/ BROTHERS WHO SERVED FOUGHT AND FELL IN/ THE GREAT WAR 1914-1918/ IN MEMORIAM/ [NAMES]/ RIP. Beneath it is another small bronze plaque with a single name. On the north-east face of the pedestal is the plaque inscribed NAMES OF MEN WHO SERVED/ [NAMES]. The other faces carry plaques inscribed with names; there are 261 names of those that served during the First World War on the memorial. On the base of the front face of the pedestal is an additional bronze plaque added after the Second World War and inscribed 1939-1945/ [NAMES]/ NOT JUST TODAY BUT EVERYDAY IN SILENCE WE REMEMBER. It includes eleven names of those who lost their lives. Above the string course at the top of the pedestal is a plaque added in 2014 commemorating those that have served in subsequent conflicts. It is inscribed HONOURING THOSE WHO STAND/ AND SUFFER IN CONFLICT.