News, events and discoveries of the Walkley Ways, Walkley Wars history project.
Walkley Community Centre will unveil the newly restored memorial windows to the nine men of Walkley Reform Club who died during the First World War on Sunday 3rd August, 3 – 5pm. Please come along to this public event if you would like to see the windows.
The Club is now Walkley Community Centre and the windows were originally installed almost 100 years ago to commemorate the nine men who died. The windows have badly deteriorated over time and were at risk of falling out of the window frame. Portraits of the men were so badly faded that their likenesses could no longer be seen. The Centre has had the windows fully restored with the aid of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Walkley Ways, Walkley Wars history project. As part of the work, volunteers on the project have tracked down photographs of five of the men from family members living across the country and these have replaced the faded portraits in the windows.
Eight of the men volunteered during the first weeks of the war while one teenager was conscripted on his 18th birthday in 1918. Three of the men died within hours and yards of each other on the first day of the Somme while serving in the Sheffield Pals.
Fiona Spiers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund – Yorkshire and the Humber said “After 2 years of hard work it is wonderful to see the completed restoration of stained glass memorial window. Great sacrifices and acts of bravery were made during the First World War and we are proud to support this project which celebrates the lives of the nine brave men from Walkley who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Rick Allan, Chair of the Walkley Community Centre says “As the centenary of First World War approaches it is fitting we can conserve the memorials to Reform Club members who died in the war. The windows look down on the Centre’s snooker room where the Reform Club’s original billiards tables are still used today. It is thought provoking to think of those nine young men playing billiards on these same tables.”
Bill Bevan, the historian leading the project says “The men were just names until volunteers found out so much about the lives and families of the men that they are effectively brought back to life as living, breathing individuals who had jobs, lived with their families and enjoyed being members of the Club. This helps today’s generations living in Walkley make a stronger, more personal connection with the First World War, with its otherwise unimaginable statistics of death, injury and horrifying conditions. People still live in some of the houses these men lived in 100 years ago.”
The unveiling is accompanied by an exhibition about the nine men called “Nine Men, Nine Lives, One Great War”. The exhibition will hang permanently beside the windows.
The stories of the men can also be seen on the Walkley History website – https://walkleyhistory.wordpress.com.
Doors are open between 3 and 5pm for a public viewing of the windows.