War Memorials Trust

Showcase result


Town or City: Oldham
County: Greater Manchester
Country: England
WMT Reference Number: WM4339

Value of grant: £30000.00
Type of memorial: Freestanding
Type of work: Conservation and repair
Grant scheme: English Heritage/Wolfson Foundation Grants
Year: 2012

UKNIWM reference number: 10

Return to search results | Start a new search

Oldham war memorial after works © Oldham Council 2014The Grade II listed World War I war memorial in Oldham is in the form of a large granite plinth on top of which is a large bronze statue designed by Albert Toft. The statue depicts a group of five soldiers making their way through the trenches in order to go into battle. The memorial is located within the Town Centre of Oldham just outside of St Mary’s Church and on the boundary walls of the church are associated bronze memorial plaques with the list of the fallen. The memorial originally had two sets of bronze doors within the plinth, however, in the 1950s one of these were removed and a mechanised roll of honour book placed in the front face of the memorial for the commemoration of the fallen from World War II.

An application for this war memorial was received through the Grants for War Oldham war memorial before works © WMT 2012Memorials scheme in 2012. The main concerns were regarding the condition of the bronze and the memorial book. Due to the high costs of this project, having been quoted at £73,640 for the eligible elements, and the availability of funds at the time, a grant of £30,000 was offered. This was in excess of the maximum offer of £20,000 which was then available through this scheme and was in recognition of the soon to be increased maximum. The works to the World War II mechanised memorial book were not eligible for funding as only one quote had been received for this element.

The main element of the works was the cleaning and repatination of the bronze sculpture and plaques. This had historically been inappropriately cleaned and a type of bronze coloured lacquer applied which had subsequently started to break down allowing Oldham war memorial during works showing detail after cleaning and before repatination © WMT 2013water to become trapped underneath causing the bronze to deteriorate. The first stage of the project was to try and establish an appropriate method for removing the lacquer. It was determined that the use of a Dichloromethan paint stripper and steam cleaning was the most affective and least invasive way for this. It was evident prior to Oldham war memorial during works showing detail after repatination © A Kepczyk 2013removing this lacquer that there were areas of corrosion and salt deposits on the bronze. However, only by removing the failing finish was it possible to fully evaluate the condition of the bronze.

On inspection it was evident that the bronze had been damaged by the previous inappropriate treatment with pitting and a rough finish to the bronze having been caused by aggressive cleaning. There were also areas of corrosion which needed to be addressed before the memorial could be treated. As such a combination of steam cleaning and Jos cleaning was required to appropriately remove deposits on the surface of the bronze to allow treatment.

The treatment of the bronze sculpture included the filling of holes and pits in the bronze using a combination of bronze mesh, bronze loaded resin and coloured wax. The sculpture was also repatinated using potassium sulphide before a protective layer of microcrystalline wax was applied.

The memorial plaques had to be removed from the wall to allow repairs to the wall and to take a mould of the plaques which will allow their reproduction should this ever become necessary. The plaques were also cleaned, repatinated, the fixings were upgraded and some elements which had been lost were remade before being reinstalled on the church boundary wall.

The granite plinth of the war memorial was in good condition and only received a light clean and works to ensure it is weather tight as water had previously been entering the structure which had resulted in damage to the World War II memorial book.

Oldham had provided a large number of men to fight in the First World War and this included one of the Pals’ regiments. The drive to create a World War I memorial in Oldham began shortly after the end of the war with a target to raise £20,000. This was intended to provide financing for both the war memorial and scholarships for children who had lost their father with any money left over going to the Oldham Royal Infirmary.

The war memorial was unveiled in April 1923 by General Sir Ian Hamilton and it is report that the inside chamber originally contained a roll of honour of the fallen and space for praying.

Further information

War Memorials Trust reference WM4339
UK National Inventory of War Memorials: 10

If you have a concern about this memorial please contact the Trust on conservation@warmemorials.org

Return to search results | Start a new search


An update to our privacy policy

This site uses cookies to help us keep the site relevant and to make your experience better. To comply with recent EU legislation we need to ask for your consent in using these cookies on your computer. For a full list of exactly how we use cookies on this site please read our Cookie Policy.

Please note: By NOT accepting cookies you will experience some reduction in functionality of this site. By continuing to use our site we will assume an implied consent.

I accept

This notice should appear only the first time you visit the site.