Memorial Gardens Trust

The Memorial Gardens and Cenotaph

The War Memorial committee was formed to work towards providing a lasting memorial to those who fell in the Great War 1914-1918. Between March 1919 and 31st December 1923, the sum of £1,583 2S 6d had been raised by public subscription, bazaars and garden parties etc.

Amongst the Memorial schemes proposed for Withernsea, all of which had for their object the provision of a memorial which would at the same time be useful for the township, that of ‘The Memorial Gardens’ received the greatest measure of support.
The Committee, however, were not content with simply purchasing the land for the gardens but also erected a monument on Pier Road to serve as the Cenotaph, or empty tomb, for those bereaved of husband or son in the War. This met with the wishes of those who favoured the erection of a monument and, at the same time, provided a tangible instalment of the whole scheme which could not of necessity be complete until the Council had done its part by developing the gardens. 

Memorial Gardens - 2020
Memorial Gardens 2020
New War Memorial - 2020
Memorial Gardens 2020

On the 11th February 1924 the War Memorial Committee formally presented the title deeds to the Memorial Gardens to Withernsea Urban District Council. All subscribers to the War Memorial Fund were invited to the event and provided with a short statement of the work done by the committee and a copy of the audited balance sheet. 

The Deed conveying the land to the Council stipulated how the gardens would be enclosed and that they should forever be called by the name of “The Memorial Gardens”. The Council was also to exercise its powers and charge admission thereto so that the gardens, as far as practicable, be made a source of revenue for the town. The parents, children and widows of those who names appear on the Roll of Honour were to have free admission to the gardens at all times. The Council also undertook the duty of keeping the Cenotaph in good repair and condition.

The Balance money was spent on a tablet which recorded the fact that many men and women from Withernsea served their country in the War and returned safely. It was not possible to compile a full list of names of those who served and it was felt that it would be better to have no list at all, rather than to have a list which was incomplete. The tablet remains to this day in the care of Withernsea Town Council.

The land was initially used as a public garden with the Floral Hall built for public entertainment. During the Second World War the army used both the land and Floral Hall and there was a radar screen and four anti-aircraft guns. Unfortunately the Floral Hall burnt down during the war and the army left the land in a mess. However, use was made of it in the years immediately after the Second World War. At different times there was a small boating lake for children, a cycling area, a small fun fair and at one time, even a small zoo. 

Meridian Land Old Black & White Photograph
Pier Road viewed from Pier Towers (Memorial Land to the left)
Old War Memorial, Withernsea
Cenotaph, Italian Gardens 2010

With the disappearance of Withernsea Urban District Council in 1974 during the re- organisation of local government, the administration of the land was taken over by Holderness Borough Council. Funds could not be found to spend on the land and it became a very derelict area. However, approximately half of the land was converted to a car park on which a cafe was sited and the income generated was used for the improvement of the Memorial Land. This continued until Withernsea Parish Council as formed in 1984 which determined to improve the amenities of the town, including the Memorial Gardens. Shortly after, Community Rural Aid offered to landscape a part of the land, with materials provided by the trustees. The result was a beautifully landscaped garden, with a grassy bank for protection against the easterly winds and a picnic area.
After the Second World War, the Cenotaph was removed from its position on Pier Road to a site on the Italian Gardens and a new Cenotaph to the fallen of that war was erected.

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