About a year ago (12 Sept 2012) the following saga began after a conversation between Bert and Iris Perkins and me, Sue Hobbs, at the Bishop Beveridge Club. It seems that one day Bert was sitting in his friend Alan Morgan's workshop watching him select a piece of timber. Bert noticed that the oak plank had some writing on it; an inscription followed by a list of Christian names. Iris suggested that it might be part of the 1st World War shrine from the corner of Church Street. At this point Alan was left in no doubt that his piece of oak was not to be cut up until its origins had been traced!
A visit to Trinity Church established that the names were not those from the Book of Remembrance and enquiries made amongst Barrow's Methodists, Baptists and Catholics were no more fruitful. Past members of the Working Men's Club and the Conservative Club couldn't recall the board either.
To spread the net wider in December 2011 Amy Watkins of the Loughborough Echo published an article asking for information about Barrow's mysterious plank, but none came. So Barrow Heritage Group contacted Liz Blood, War Memorial's Officer of Leicestershire County Council; one of her responsibilities is to keep a database of war memorials in the county. Unfortunately Barrow's mysterious board matched nothing in her records and an article in Branchline, a county journal, produced no links either. Undaunted Liz placed the board in an exhibition at the Bosworth Battle Field site. Although several people got in touch their information proved to have no connection with the board.
A possible clue was that one of the names on the board was Lamont. A search of the local and national 1901 and 1911 censuses revealed that there were seven Lamonts recorded between the ages of seventeen and fifty-seven but four were Scottish and none of them had obvious links with the Midlands. However, just as despair was setting in Liz Blood suggested asking the War Memorials Trust to help. Keith Chaplin photographed the board and with some clever photo-shop editing managed to reveal fragments of surnames. These pictures appeared on the War Memorials Trust website.
The story moves to Liverpool where Amanda Taylor was researching her husband's family history. In her father-inlaw's photograph album was a picture of a war memorial on which was the name William Noll, her father-in-law's uncle. Amanda went on to gather information about the other 62 people listed on the war memorial in the photograph and then went in search of the original which she discovered had been in the church of St. James in Toxteth, Liverpool. The name Lamont was on this war memorial- at last a connection had been made! It seems the church, founded in 1775, closed in 1972. Sometime between 1972 and its reopening under the new name of St. James in the City the church was broken into and damage done. However thanks to Amanda Taylor's love of researching family history the mystery of where the plank had come from was finally solved.
Kathryn and George Timmons (George is a Liverpudlian) kindly offered to return the plank to Liverpool and the hand over took place on July 29th in the grounds of the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral which is very close to St. James' Church. Amanda was overjoyed to receive the plank from the war memorial and with the help of the vicar and the Diocesan network is planning to try and track down what happened to the remaining pieces and return the whole memorial to its rightful place.
If anyone is able to throw any light on the mystery of how a piece of oak travelled from Liverpool to Barrow upon Soar please get in touch.
Graham and Sue Hobbs