3rd Dec, 2016

Historic World War I memorial discovered next to Coventry house

Shaun Reynolds 30th Jun, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A HISTORIC memorial from World War I has been discovered buried underneath a city garden while a resident was relaying the base for a new garage.

Brian Gibbs, of Gun Lane in Stoke, received the shock of his life when digging up the existing hardcore as a large stone was buried underneath the ground.

The stone was far too big to make a smooth foundation – Brian decided to break it up into smaller pieces where he later made the discovery of names inscribed on the back of the stone.

To Brian’s amazement, a quick check on other pieces revealed even more names – prompting him to lay out all the pieces out on the floor.

Following a message to the Coventry Society, volunteers involved in the city’s War Memorial Project came to take a look at the discovery.

Volunteers Terry Reeves did some initial research on the names inscribed on the memorial and came to the conclusion that the memorial was a World War I item from Coventry – likely to be somewhere close to Stoke.

With the information to hand, Terry visited the Coventry History Centre and trawled through old copies of the Coventry and Warwickshire Graphic.

In the edition from September 5 1913, Terry discovered a photograph of the opening of the Barras Green Institute – of the names listed, seven had the same surname as those on the memorial.

Given the proximity to Gun Lane, the working theory is that the memorial comes from there.

It is assumed that the original building of the Barras Green Working Men’s Club and Institute was demolished to make way for the current Barras Green Club and the memorial could have been dumped at that time.

Mr Gibbs, who first made the discovery, said it is an incredible shame that the memorial was used as hardcore.

He added: “It would be nice to see the memorial restored in some way to give proper recognition to the men commemorated.”

No decision has yet been made about what to do with the memorial – and the Coventry Society is inviting suggestions about how to move things forward.

John Payne, of the Coventry Society, said he wants to hear from residents who may have a connection with the names listed on the memorial and have a connection with the old Barras Green Institute.

He added: “At the time that we are commemorating the start of the Battle of the Somme it is a shame that a memorial from that era has ended on the scrap heap.

“We would love to know its history and find an appropriate home for this fascinating artefact.

“Anyone who knows anything about this memorial should get in touch, we would love to hear from you.”

Anyone with information should contact the Coventry Society by e-mail at info@coventrysociety.org.uk or phone John Payne on 07855 535249.