The Barnbow Memorial

Late in 2003, a leaflet was issued from the three Seacroft Councillors, stating the disused toilet block situated at the old tram terminus in Crossgates was to be demolished. The leaflet also asked what people might want to see happen with the site. ELHAS responded with suggestions that the site be developed as a memorial garden to the Barnbow Shell Factory Workers who lost their lives in explosions at the factory during the 1914-18 War. Local Councillor, Michael Davey responded with a note saying he thought it was a good idea.

The reason ELHAS requested a memorial to these casualties is because they were mainly women doing a dangerous job in the service of their country, and thought there was a need to recognise civilians and women in particular in World War 1, as without their contribution the outcome of the war could have been very different.

Also Crossgates used to have a war memorial next to the police station but when this was demolished the memorial disappeared too. Several enquiries by ELHAS as to where it may have gone have proved fruitless, and this was seen as an opportunity to redress the balance.

ELHAS received no further communication until after the local elections in 2004, when Crossgates Traders Association contacted us and asked if we would be prepared to take on organising a memorial, as they were involved with another project.

An initial meeting followed on 10th December 2004 with the East Leeds Area Management Committee and Groundwork Trust, when ELHAS submitted a possible design for the memorial, which would incorporate the names of all the Barnbow casualties. Carole Smithies, a local expert sent a list of casualties, which we checked with our own, and a query with one of the names was confirmed by York Minster and the Royal Armouries in Leeds.

A further meeting on 7th January 2005 confirmed that the East Leeds Area Management Committee would be responsible for commissioning the work for the memorial, project management and payment of costs. Andy Spargo of Groundwork Trust presented a proposed design concept which incorporated all the elements of the original design submitted by ELHAS, and would be constructed within the allocated budget. The design met with full approval and Groundwork Trust was commissioned to do the work.

The memorial was constructed in August 2005 and Wall to Wall television company filmed the memorial on 18th August 2005, for the Ian Hislop programme 'Not Forgotten'. ELHAS approached Churches Together in Leeds 15, to ask if they would organise a service of dedication for the memorial, which was arranged by Rev Gary Stott, Vicar of Manston St James's church.

This took place on Sunday, September 18th, led by Rev Stott, and was attended by over 200 people, including relatives of the casualties. An address was given by Mr William Hyde, Lord Mayor of Leeds, and both Wall-to-Wall television, and the BBC's 'Look North' programme filmed the proceedings and interviewed some of the people involved..
Crossgates Methodist Church allowed ELHAS use of the church hall where refreshments were provided.

ELHAS would like to thank all those who have contributed to the success of this project, which has resulted in the construction of a fitting memorial to the Barnbow Shell Factory casualties of the 1914-18 war.