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History

Welcome to the Standish Branch of The Royal British Legion

Branch History

Standish Branch of The British Legion was formed 11 February 1922.

The Motto of The Royal British Legion is SERVICE not SELF.

History of The Memorial Gardens

Ordnance Survey maps of Standish show that the area in front of the Globe at the intersection of Church Street and High Street, and now known as the Queen Victoria memorial Gardens, was open in 1897.

In that year public subscription resulted in the erection of the water fountain as a permanent memorial for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. On Tuesday, 21st June 1897, the day appointed by the Queen for the public holiday thanksgiving, the people of the township of Standish celebrated in a most enthusiastic manner, and the Wigan Observer for 25th June commented that:

"All the inhabitants seemed to be united in their rejoicing and the otherwise quiet little village was a ferment of joy during the whole day."

The paper went onto say:

"The celebrations began at the early hour of six in the morning when the bells of the parish church rang out a joyous peal, and the inhabitants were soon astir!"

At the conclusion of the Great War, the Standish Urban District Council appointed a War Memorial Committee to consider a permanent memorial to the fallen, and this was unveiled by Councillor Henry Fairhurst on 17th April 1920, on the land between the Globe and the Victoria Jubilee Fountain. The memorial itself is unusual in that it dates the First World War as ending in 1919 (when the treaty was signed) rather than the more usual 1918 (when hostilities ceased). The perimeter, with iron railings atop, was erected, and the gardens have evolved over the years.

The names of those who died in the war of 1939-1945 were added later.

From the Local Heritage Initiative, a partnership between the Heritage Lottery Fund, Nationwide Building Society and the Countryside Agency, the project was two-fold; firstly to refurbish and restore the War Memorial gardens, and secondly to celebrate its historic significance within the Township through a series of events and visits, and the production of a commemorative booklet.

The ideas of the project were to be able to refurbish the Queen Victoria Gardens which did not include the fountain.

The first idea was to refurbish and to replace the railings and these were taken to Robrite at Shevington to be melted down. A committee of the Standish Royal British Legion and Standish Community Forum was formed. People included were David Williams, Gordon Buckley, Bob Allen, Keith Douglas and Graham Wilcox. Quite a few meetings followed involving Wigan Township people including Linda Coe and Andrew Meadows who were the people to help and advise which way to go, and the filling in of the forms to apply for the grant.

It was decided to go for a grant to the Heritage Lottery, Couuntryside Agency,Nationwide Building Society. Dealings with the Heritage people took around six months and we also had to have plans and drawings and all these had to be submitted to Wigan MBC's Heritage Department, firstly to Mr Powell and Kath Brogan as we were dealing with a listed monument.

Planning Permission 

To be able to do the work, Planning permission was needed. This was seen through by Councillor John O'Neill. Once this was given, we had to apply to the Legal Depatment for the lease of the gardens and the War Memorial which was part of the conditions to be able to apply for the grant. We received a ten year lease from the Metro which enabled us to go forward to apply for a grant and the format had been decided and Gordon Buckley (clerk of works) where estimates had to be submitted. Once sorted, a tremendous amount of work was done by Gordon and there were many hours of meetings with various Metro Departments to get to the point where we could, on that side of the project, be in a position to apply for the grant.

We also committed to overseeing to include various events involving the people of Standish. All the schools were involved with a visit to the Imperial War Museum. Over 400 children and British Legion members were taken in turn to the museum at different periods. We also had children's education man Geoff Bennett who does his shows, Air Raid Archie of the 2nd World War. Also Geoff did 8 shows in total in the Library for all the schools and 2 sessions for senior citizens and also a show was done at Mere Oaks school. The whole of this project was done entirely by the Library staff, Linda and Heather who did these sessions when the Library was closed on Fridays, which is much appreciated.

We also had a project where we would research some of the names on the Cenotaph, WW1 and WW2 to see if they had relatives who still lived in the village. This proved to be very time consuming and alot of time was given by the people involved to get the point of providing information and the photographs in a book for the people of Standish.

We had a grand parade and opening. Only when the work was completed (apart from the railings, as we advised not to put this in he grant application as we could have lost everything) we were hoping to get the grant for work started in February 2004. The parade and opening took place on the Saturday, 8th May 2004. The opening of the gardens was performed by Deputy Mayor and Mayoress of Wiagn, Councillor John Hilton and Mrs Hilton. Also in the parade was MP for Wigan, Neil Turner and M.E.P., Terry Wynn and Mrs Wynn and the clergy of Standish, The Rector of Standish Rev. Michael Everitt, Rev. Ann Hall and Rev. Simon Pritchard. Officials and members of Standish Royal British Legion and Standish Community Forum were also in attendance. On parade, RAFA Burma Star Association, Landing Craft, Royal Naval Association, Far East Veterans Association and members from  other British Legions. Children from all 5 schools of Standish; Guides; Brownies; Scouts and Cubs. Following the opening of the gardens by a Standish British legion member and a serving soldier, Sergeant Chris Velone, Royal Engineers, a reception was held in the Unity Club where Chris received and inscribed tankard from the Deputy Mayoress. Also, the children who represented their schools and laid flowers on the new British Legion stone were all presented with a certificate.

This was a long and worthwhile project and looks very nice at the entrance to the village.

David Williams

project co-ordinator

 standish memorial

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