PRESTON REMEMBERS 1914-1918

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The Roll of Honour lists 1,956 men from Preston who lost their lives during the First World War.

Laying the wreath at Preston Cenotaph.

Laying the wreath at Preston Cenotaph.

Preston Cenotaph and Roll of Honour

The need to restore the Preston Cenotaph, located on the flag market in the heart of Preston, was the initial reason that the Preston Remembers project was conceived. The Cenotaph is associated with the Roll of Honour that is housed within the Harris Museum next to the memorial, and this project is an opportunity to explore the relationship between the memorial structure and the men listed there.

The Roll of Honour lists 1,956 men from Preston who lost their lives during the First World War. It was added to the Harris in 1927, replacing a temporary Roll of Honour which had existed in the central rotunda since 1917. The Roll of Honour is located on the ground floor, in two sections, on both staircases facing the entrance door. The names are inscribed on marble tablets and begin with the men of the Royal Navy listed in alphabetical order, followed by the regiments in alphabetical order.

The Roll of Honour was produced to accompany the Preston Cenotaph, which was built in gratitude to all the men of Preston who died during the First World War, and was completed in 1926. Both the Cenotaph and the Roll of Honour were designed by the architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and paid for by voluntary public donations.

The Roll of Honour is not a complete list or record of local men who enlisted in Preston and lost their lives during the Great War. It only includes men who lived in the town prior to their death, based on the boundaries of Preston at the time of the war. The parish and district councils outside Preston also produced public memorials to fallen servicemen. No charge was made to inscribe names on the Roll of Honour and the submission of names was a decision left to the immediate families of the deceased at that time. The council produced forms to collect the details of the Preston men who had died. Only names submitted between 1916 and 1927 are included on Roll of Honour.  Despite all efforts of the council and the assistance of the regiments and local churches some families chose instead to remember their loved ones privately on other memorials such as those in churches or on family gravestones in Preston Cemetery. It has been estimated that the families of more than 400 Preston men who died during the First World War did not submit names to the municipal Roll of Honour. This decision was respected by the council at the time and the design and production of the panels was completed on this basis in 1927.  The Roll of Honour is now part of the historic fabric of the Grade I listed Harris Museum and Art Gallery and no further names can be added to the memorial retrospectively.

Bound copies of the original submission forms can be found in the Harris Reference Library under the shelf number G192 PRE. These give, in most cases, additional information about those named on the memorial including previous address and occupation.

No memorial or Roll of Honour was produced during World War II. Instead the war memorial on the Market Square was also dedicated to all those from Preston who died and is the focus for Remembrance Day services.

The restoration work undertaken in 2013 also adds to this a rededication to all those who have given their lives in service since 1945. Their names are recorded in an electronic database, which is housed in the Community History Library in the Harris and available on a dedicated website found here. The project was completed in 2012 following research by a team of volunteers from the Lancashire Infantry Museum.

As part of Preston Remembers we are compiling research on each of the names listed on the First World War Roll of Honour on the IWM’s Lives of the First World War project which can be found here.