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.