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(This article is largely based on material kindly sent by Dr Jimmy Whittaker, July 2020.)

The Memorial Benches of Hungerford

Memorial seats or benches are described as pieces of furniture which commemorate a person or persons who have lived in the locality of the bench. The benches are generally made of hard wood but today in order to prolong their life span, they can be made of metal, stone or synthetic materials usually of a composite polymeric nature.

Hungerford Town Council is responsible for the upkeep of many of the public benches found around Hungerford. Many of these are memorial benches have an inscription but some are unnamed and were presumably installed and funded by the council itself. Unnamed benches can be found at locations such as Bearwater, Strongrove Hill, Charnham Street and Smitham Bridge park to name a few.

Hungerford has a plethora of commemorative benches located in public places such as:

The War Memorial Grounds in Bridge Street

Hungerford Wharf in Canal Walk

• Hungerford High Street

Church Street

• The Croft

• The Hungerford Club sports grounds

• St. Lawrence’s Churchyard

• Kennet and Avon Canal path

The War Memorial Recreational Grounds in Bulpit Lan and Cricket Club

• St. Saviour’s Church Yard

• Harvey’s Stream in Eddington

• Freeman’s Marsh

Photo Gallery:

 

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- B1: Royal British Legion - Service not self

- B2: Royal British Legion - Centenary 2018

- B3: Stobart

- B4: We will remember them

- CW1: Unnamed

- CW2: Diamond Wedding of Harry and Mary Fradgley

- CW3: Unnamed

- CW4: Unnamed

- CW5: The Talmage bench

- CW6: William Thomas Clothier

- CW7: George and Joseph Neale

- CW8: Teddy and Gladys Pratt

- CW9: Arthur Ernest Hamblin

- CW10: David John Holtby

- LIB1: David Liddiard

- TM1: Hungerford Tragedy Memorial

- WA1: John Luthwaite

- CC1: Nick Waters

- CC2: Jonathan Alan Barrett

- CC3: Bill Ralph

- CC4: Wally Dennis

- CC5: Jeffrey Harris

- CC6: The Downgate Memorial seat

- CC7: John Miller

- CC8: Mick North

- CC9: Basil Kenchington

- CC10: Roy Newcombe

- CC11: Ray Brown

- CC12: Colin Goodall

Benches in The War Memorial Grounds in Bridge Street:

Royal British Legion - Service not self (Ref: B1)

This bench commemorates the formation of British Legion. The organisation of ex-service men into a mass membership movement was a new departure in British life. Four main groups came together in 1921 to form the British Legion, led by former high-ranking ex-officers.

Royal British Legion Centenary - 1918 -2018 (Ref: B2)

This bench commemorates the British Legion and its centenary in 2018. The carved poppy on the bench is the insignia of the British Legion and a symbol of both remembrance and hope for a peaceful future.

War Memorials and Poppies

If you visit Hungerford’s two war memorial sites (Bridge Street and the War Memorial sarsen stone in the War Memorial Recreational grounds), you will often see poppy wreaths adorning the memorials. Why are poppies used?

During WW1, much of the fighting took place in Western Europe. The countryside was blasted, bombed and fought over repeatedly. Previously beautiful landscapes turned to mud— bleak and barren scenes where little or nothing could grow.
There was a notable and striking exception to the bleakness - the bright red Flanders poppies. These resilient flowers flourished in the middle of so much chaos and destruction, growing in the thousands upon thousands.

Shortly after losing a friend in Ypres, a Canadian doctor, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was moved by the sight of these poppies and that inspiration led him to write the now famous poem 'In Flanders Fields'.

The poem then inspired an American academic named Moina Michael to adopt the poppy in memory of those who had fallen in the war. She campaigned to get it adopted as an official symbol of Remembrance across the United States and worked with others who were trying to do the same in Canada, Australia and the UK.

Also involved with those efforts was a French woman, Anna Guérin, who was in the UK in 1921 where she planned to sell the poppies in London.
There she met Earl Haig, founder of the Royal British Legion, who was persuaded to adopt the poppy as an emblem for the Legion in the UK. The Legion, formed earlier that year, ordered nine million poppies and sold them on 11 November.
The poppies sold out almost immediately. That first 'Poppy Appeal' raised over £106,000 to help veterans with housing and jobs; a considerable sum at the time. (In today’s ‘Poppy Appeal’, 40,000 volunteers distribute 40 million poppies).

In view of how quickly the poppies had sold and wanting to ensure plenty of poppies for the next appeal, Major George Howson set up the Poppy Factory to employ disabled ex-servicemen. Today, the factory and the Legion’s warehouse in Aylesford produces millions of poppies each year.
The demand for poppies in England continued unabated and was so high, in fact, that few poppies actually managed to reach Scotland. To address this and meet growing demand, Earl Haig's wife Dorothy established the 'Lady Haig Poppy Factory' in Edinburgh in 1926 to produce poppies exclusively for Scotland.

Today, over five million Scottish poppies (which have four petals and no leaf, unlike poppies in the rest of the UK) are still made by hand by disabled ex-Servicemen at Lady Haig's Poppy Factory each year and distributed by the charity Poppyscotland.

Remembrance in the UK today is very different than it was 100 years ago. People take part whatever their political or religious beliefs. The poppy remains a humble, poignant symbol of Remembrance and hope.

In memory of our Parents; Lt.Colonel Peter and Marjorie Stobart (Ref: B3)

Peter Stobart was a Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Army and was originally commissioned as an officer cadet in the Royal Signal corps during WW2. He and his wife, Marjorie, lived at 24 Bridge Street, now known as Forge Cottage, from around 1986 until 2008.

Peter Bryan Haliburton Stobart was born in Edmonton, north London in 1923 and died on 20th June 2011. His wife died on 30th April 2017. Their children, Mark and Claire, donated the bench in memory of their parents.

We will remember them (Ref: B4)

This bench is in remembrance of armed services personnel who died in WW1 and WW2 and was erected by the Hungerford Branch of the Royal British Legion. 

Benches on Hungerford Wharf in Canal Walk:

Unnamed (Ref: CW1)

The Diamond Wedding of Mary and Harry Fradgley 2013 (Ref: CW2)

This bench is to celebrate the Diamond Wedding of Mary and Harry Fradgley, 6th April 2013.

George Harold Fradgley, known as Harry, married Mary Reeves in Wantage in 1953 and they had three children - Richard, David and Sarah. Harry was a most popular “village bobby“ and was stationed in Hungerford for many years.

Unnamed (Ref: CW3)

Unnamed (Ref: CW4)

The Talmage bench (Ref: CW5)

This bench is to commemorate the Talmage family and friends. There have been Talmages in Hungerford since the early 1700’s and there are still several Talmage families living in the town today.

Perhaps one of the most famous Talmage’s was James Edward Talmage. James E. Talmage, was the eldest son of James Joyce Talmage and Susannah Preater and was born on 21 September 1862 at the Bell in Hungerford (now 115 High Street). He was primarily an academic having studied chemistry and geology in America he became a professor at several universities as well as writing religious books. He was a fervent supporter of the church of the Latter-Day Saints and died on 27th July 1933, aged 70. More details can be found on the Hungerford Virtual Museum website and on Wikipedia.

Incidentally, there is a memorial sarsen stone with an inscribed bonze plaque dedicated to him next to the bench.

The bench made of solid teak was installed in 1987 and a ceremony took place in Canal Walk conducted by the Mormon elder Russell M Nelson to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Church of the Latter Day Saints in the British Isles. In attendance were James Talmage’s youngest son John R Talmage (aged 82) and his grandson Roger who had flown from America for the ceremony.

See also: "Memorial for a famous Mormon", NWN 30 Jul 1987 - re the sarsen stone memorial on Canal Walk to James E Talmage.

William Thomas Clothier (Ref: CW6)

William Clothier, known as "Bill" was born on 6th September 1910 in Shepton Mallet. He grew up in Prestleigh which is a small village in the Mendips, Somerset. His parents Herbert and Sarah owned Water Farm so it is hardly surprising that he followed a farming related career.

By the start of 1939, Bill and his wife Edith had moved into Hungerford and lived at 26 Church Street and in the census of that year he was described as an English grain buyer from farmers. He was a successful and well-respected businessmen in the town. Around 1972 he owned 12 and 13 High Street, when it was sold to John Newton.

Bill died on 27th November 1982 aged 72 and was living at Milton House at the top of the Salisbury Road. His will revealed that he was a millionaire. Both Bill and Edith's graves are in St. Saviours cemetery.

George and Joseph Neale (Ref: CW7)

"Presented in Memory of George Neale and his grandfather Joseph who was a wharfinger on this canal in the 1840s"

Elsewhere on the Virtual Museum, under "Carriers" is the following:

Water Conveyance:

Kelly's Directory of 1848 lists the following services conveying water:

- Joseph Neale (agent); Canal Company’s Wharf to Bristol to Reading three times a week (using Charles Parker’s barges).

- Joseph Neale (agent): The Wharf to London and Bristol daily (using Thomas Shaw & Co.’s barges).

In Memory of Edward and Gladys Pratt (Ref: CW8)

This bench was presented by their families. Edward Pratt, known as "Teddy" was born on 22nd September 1899 and was Constable of the Town and Manor of Hungerford for two years from 1945 to 1946 and in 1946 he was elected to Hungerford Parish Council. In this election he was “top of the poll" which was chosen by a show of hands.

During WW1 her served in the Royal Tank Corp. 

On the Sunday after VE day (Tuesday 8th May 1945) a large victory parade took place in Hungerford and Teddy gave a morale boosting speech to the assembled crowd outside the Town Hall.

He was a member of Hungerford Club and was Worshipful Master of the Hungerford Lodge of Freemasons 1939 to 1940.

Teddy Pratt came to the town in 1921 and took over Hutchins butchers’ shop at 12 and 13 High Street and he was to remain there as a master butcher for 43 years until his retirement in 1964.

His father Edward Owton Pratt and Ada at farmed at Timsbury near Romsey in Hampshire and on the 1911 census his father was described as a farmer and a butcher. Teddy Pratt was born on 22nd September 1899 in the village of Burley, Hampshire and had four brothers, Robert, Frank, John and George, all of whom became butchers.

He married Gladys Emily Perrins Pratt (born 27th June 1900) in 1922 in Portland near Weymouth and they had three daughters, Peggy (b.1923), twins June and Mary (b.1925) and a son Edward (b.1928).

Teddy died on 26th June 1973 and at the time of his death he was living at the house named “Sarum” in Church Way. After Teddy's death she moved to 8 Canal Walk.She later moved to Crown Mews in Church Street where she died on 6th August 1988.

Arthur Ernest Hamblin (Ref: CW9)

This bench was presented to the Town and Manor of Hungerford by Arthur Ernest Hamblin around the time that he was the Mayor of Truro (1972/1973).
He was born on 28th July 1902 in Marylebone, London and married Sarah A Deacon in 1926. However he cannot be found on the census of 1911 .

I am grateful to Alan Ford who kindly provided further information: "It appears he was an illegitimate child, born at the "St Marylebone Female Protection Society", which cared for expectant mothers before placing them in service. They took people from all over the county. His mother was Margaret Hamblin. (There was a Margaret Hamblin of about the right age born 1874 - registered in Hungerford, living in West Woodhay).

In 1939 he was living in Exeter and his occupation was a wholesale agent.

Arthur Hamblin died on 28th October 1979 and at the time he was living at 29, Kenwyn Street in Truro." 

There are two other benches to his memory which are sited on Hungerford Common near the Down Gate inn and on the footpath along the River Kennet and Harvey's Stream at Eddington .

The inscriptions on both the benches found at Canal Walk and on the Common describe him as being “an old boy of the town”. Robert James added that he had known Arthur Hamblin and had been in correspondence with him around the time of the installation of two of the benches, the one at Eddington and the one on the Common. Robert further added that he knew members of the Hamblin family who lived locally and one of them, Wally, had worked for Robert's family company James and Co. initially as a driver and then progressing to a senior game food salesman. He added that quite a few of the Hamblins and their families had lived around Hungerford.

Robert James also remembered that a brother of Wally’s together with his two sons had farmed at Orpenham Farm just to the south of Wickham, and another brother, Benny, worked for Pass & Co / Gowerings in Newbury.

Robin Mann, a project engineer at West Berkshire Council, was able to provide the final piece of the jigsaw - the naming of Hamblin Meadow. Hamblin Meadow was formally adopted on 30th November 1999. The S.38 adoption agreement was between Berkshire County Council and Vokins Holdings Ltd and National House Building Council. The 1819 Enclosure Award Map shows that the land on which Hamblin Meadow is built was in 1819 owned by "John Pearse, exchanged to devisees of John Hamblin".

However, questions still remain. It is probable that Arthur Hamblin is a family member of a local Hamblin family but how did he end up in Devon and Cornwall and where was he between 1902 and 1926?

David John Holtby (Ref: CW10)

David John Holtby was born on 26th February 1945 in Dartford in Kent and was the youngest son of Godfrey F Holtby and Elsie E Fullbrook. His elder brother Godfrey died in his infancy.

After graduating from the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst he was commissioned in the Royal Engineers and reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. His military career and organisational skills put him in good stead for his post military career which was both political and public service. 

When he and his family arrived in Hungerford he took an active interest in local politics and before long he became the agent for local member of parliament for the Newbury Constituency Richard Benyon, who described him as a “great Hungerfordian, great Englishman and a brave and loyal friend”. At his funeral service in St. Lawrence's church, Richard Benyon gave a wonderful eulogy.

His public service started with election to the Hungerford Town Council and then the West Berkshire Council in 2007. He had recently just been chosen to the deputy leader of the council. On hearing of his death West Berkshire Council leader Gordon Lundie (Con, Lambourn Valley) remarked: “David was a remarkable man who worked tirelessly for the people of Hungerford. Many of us who are elected today will remember David for his kindness, humour and sense of purpose. We are all deeply saddened by this untimely loss.”

Paul Hewer, a local man who served with David on the West Berkshire council for several years, was instrumental in the establishment of the memorial bench to the late district councillor. This bench is situated close to the canal bridge was quite fitting, since he was largely responsible for driving the footbridge project through when the new Jubilee canal bridge was erected. 

David Holtby married Jill Thomas and they have two children Rupert and Fleur. Sadly, David unexpectedly died of a heart attack on 10th June 2013. His family home was Avenue House in the Croft. He was buried in St. Saviour's cemetery.

Benches in Church Street:

David Liddiard (Ref: LIB1)

This memorial bench is found outside on the left-hand side of Hungerford Library.

"In honour of David William Liddiard for Service to the District and Parish Council"

David was born on 6th November 1929 in Marlborough. He was the only son of William and Beatrice A Pragnell who married at Stockbridge, Hampshire at the end of WW2. His mother’s sister Phyllis Pragnell had married the famous photographer Cecil FF Snow in 1932 in Maidenhead.

In 1952, David married Josephine Neale in Newbury and they had three children: Richard, James and Beatrice Kate, known as Kate. 

He was a larger than life character and as a staunch Conservative, he contributed much to local politics. His political career spanned over forty years during which he served on the Newbury District Council from 1974 to 1989, the West Berkshire Council from 1990 to 1996 and Hungerford Town Council from 1997 until 2013. In 2003, he became Mayor of Hungerford. When he retired from civic duties in 2013, a grand party was held at The Three Swans Hotel, Hungerford High Street, where friends, council colleagues and past mayors gathered to honour him.

Outside of politics his achievements were many and included being a founder member of Great Shefford Young Farmers, chairman of the Royal County of Berkshire Show in 1963, a founder member and a former president of Hungerford Rotary Club on two occasions, patron of the Community of Hungerford Theatre Company and a founder member of Hungerford Probus.

He drove the Monte Carlo Rally in 1954 and, despite having a full-time career as a farmer, helped pioneer the sport of hot-air ballooning after gaining his pilot’s licence in 1972. 

David became Vice-President of the British Balloon and Airship Club in 1976, and his subsequent international airborne exploits included launching the first hang glider crossing of the English Channel from his balloon at 20,000 feet and piloting the Zanussi Airship. 

In 1972, he started The Icicle Meet balloon festival, which is still held locally on the first weekend of January and attracts balloonists from around the globe. 

If you walk down Church Street at the junction of Croft Road you will see a bungalow on the right hand side which has a hot-air balloon weather vane on its roof and you can guess who used to live there. 

He was a highly successful farmer and lived at College Farm, Upper Denford with his wife Jo before being admitted to Brendoncare Nursing Home, Foxfield after he had been suffering from Parkinsons for a number of years. 

He died peacefully on 14 th November 2018 aged 89.

Benches in The Croft:

Benches in The Hungerford Club sports grounds

Benches in St. Lawrence’s Churchyard

Benches in Kennet and Avon Canal path

Benches in The War Memorial Recreational Grounds in Bulpit Lane:

Hungerford Tragedy Memorial (Ref: TM1)

Commissioned by Hungerford Town Council with the generous support of The Royal County of Berkshire ad Newbury District Council.

This bench is in memory of the 16 people murdered by the gunman Michael Ryan on 19th August 1987 .

War Memorial Avenue: 

There are eight benches as you walk along the avenue with four on the left and four on the right but only one of these has a dedication on it, details of which are given below.

John W Luthwaite (Ref: WA1)

Presented by the family in loving memory of John W. Luthwaite, Clerk to the Parish Council 1956-73.

John Westrom Luthwaite was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne on the 2nd September 1915 and was the son of John William Luthwaite and Elizabeth Westrom.In 1942 during the WW2 he married Emmie Amy Bradbury in 1942.Known as Jack and Amy , they had two children Susan A and John W.I travelled to Newbury with both of their in the early 1960’s .
Jack became the town clerk in 1956 and carried on until his death in 1973.My father knew Jack quite well and described him as being as straight as an arrow.

Benches in the Cricket Ground:

West side: There are many un-named benches around the ground. Those with memorials are:

Nick Waters (Ref: CC1)

Nick Waters 38. 29-04-81 to 27-10-2019. "Forever in our hearts".

Nicholas Jeremy Waters was born on 29th April 1981 in the Reading and Wokingham registration district and was the son of Jeremy and Debbie.

Jonathan Alan Barrett (Ref: CC2)

In Loving Memory of Jonathan Alan Barrett, 1969-1009. "You'll never walk sit alone."

Location: westside mid-wicket. 

Jonathan Alan Barrett known as Jon was the son of Alan Barrett and Margaret Chivers .He was born in Savernake Hospital on 29th August 1969 and died on 24th June 2009 aged 38.
His cremation memorial stone can be found in St. Saviours cemetery in Eddington.

Bill Ralph (Ref: CC3)

In memory of Bill Ralph, 2nd XI Keeper From 1948-1972.

Location: westside mid-wicket. William Thomas Ralph (Bill) affectionately known as Princey was born in Hungerford on 14th December 1924 and was one the sons of Thomas W Ralph and Alice Dangerfield. He was the brother of Ivy Wells, the first lady Mayor of Hungerford. He was married to Hazel and had three daughters Bridget, Elizabeth and Ruth. During WW2, when he was aged only 14, he worked as a stable boy at Seven Barrows farm. He then later trained to be a very skilled bricklayer.

A family man, Bill enjoyed his gardening and was the wicket keeper of Hungerford’s 2nd XI from 1948 until 1972. In 1953 he took part in the Coronation Cricket match in which Hungerford Men played Hungerford Ladies.

At the time of his death on 7th January 2011, Bill was living with his wife Hazel at Priory Avenue. His daughter Ruth and her family also live in Hungerford. At the time of writing this article (2020), Hazel has just celebrated her 93rd birthday.

His cremation memorial stone can be found in St. Saviours cemetery in Eddington.

The Downgate Memorial seat (Ref:CC6)

This is a long bench with multiple inscriptions. 

David Yates added "Yes Jimmy had it put up on the cricket field in memory of all the customers that died during my reign as landlord of the Downgate. Most of them were groundsmen there, God bless them".

Wally Dennis (Ref: CC4)

In Memory of Wally Dennis aged 93.

Wallace Denis was born in Hungerford in 1913, the son of Edmund Dennis and Annie Wild. His parents married in Ecclesall in Sheffield and his sister Elsie was born there.

In 1943 Wally married Gladys Ferrand in Saddleworth near Oldham. They had one son Lester who was born in 1947.

He was part of the construction team that built the entrance from the High Street to Priory Road after WW2 and later became postman until he retired in the late 1970s. After retirement he worked for Lord Rootes as part-time water keeper looking after the stretch of River Kennet behind Eddington Mill.

Wally had lived all of his life in Hungerford. Homes included Lower Farm Cottages, 10 Eddington and, at the time of his death, he was living in the flats at Portdown, Park Street. He died on 1st March 2002 aged 93.

Jeffrey Harris (Ref: CC5)

In Memory of Jeffrey Harris aged 82.

Jeffrey Owen Harris was born in Hungerford on the 6th November 1926 and was the son of Caleb and Maria Harris. At the start of WW2, he was living with his parents and sister Joyce in Priory Place. His father worked for the GWR as part of the engineering and maintenance staff.

He died on 27th March 2009 aged 82.

John Miller (Ref:CC7)

In Memory of John Miller aged 82.

John Miller died suddenly on 6th January 2010 aged 81. He was from a large family with brothers Bob, Bill, George, Bert, Charlie and Walt. His sisters were Mildred, Winnie and Jean. His wife was Joyce.

Mick North (Ref:CC8)

In Memory of Mick North Aged 75.

Jeffrey Michael known as Mick was born on 18th July 1937 and died on the 30th December 2012. He was keen cricketer and footballer having played for Hungerford. He had a nickname of Shatters since he would complain that he was shattered from all the sports that he did. He had two children - Holly and Simon.

He could often be seen strutting across the cricket field early evening for a couple of pints in his favourite pub…The Downgate, in which he would often hold court on all sorts of subjects  - particularly sports.

Basil Kenchington (Ref: CC9)

In memory of Basil Kenchington 1923-2015.

Basil was born in Hartley Wintley in 1922 and was the son of Edgar Kenchington and Laura Watmore. In 1966 he married Pat Creighton and they had a son Kevin. Basil died on 23rd March 2015 aged 93.


West side: There are many un-named benches around the ground on the east side. Those with memorials are:

Roy Newcombe (Ref: CC10)

Roy Newcombe, 1936-2019. 1st XI 1958/93. Hon. Life President, Chairman, and Umpire.

Location: eaststside mid-wicket. 

Roy Miles Newcombe was born in Brentford in 1936 and was the son of Alfred Newcombe and Iris Luck. He married Gill and they has three children Jane, Marion and Stuart.

One of Roy’s passions in life was cricket and he played for Hungerford 1st X1 from 1958 until 1993. He was made an Honorary Life member of the cricket club for his services to the club which included his long playing history, chairmanship of the club and his stint as an empire.

Roy died on 7th April 2019 and was aged 83… quite a good innings.

Ray Brown (Ref: CC11)

In memory of Ray Brown, 1955-2013. Sit, remember and smile.

Location: eastside mid-wicket.

Raymond Stewart Brown, affectionately known as Spider, was born on 29th August 1955 in Newbury and died on 26th November 2013. His cremation memorial stone can be found in St. Saviour's cemetery in Eddington.

Colin Goodall (Ref: CC12)

Presented In His Loving Memory By The Family Of Colin Goodall, 1938-2001,

Location: eastside mid-wicket.

Colin Douglas Goodall was born on 30th September 1938 in Newbury and was the son of Sidney Goodall and Winifred Jupp.

During WW2, Colin and his brother Graham were living at The Hill in Kintbury.

Colin was married to Annabella and they lived in Coldharbour Road. Her cremation stone can be seen in St. Saviour's cemetery. Her children were Diane, Snowy, Nicholas, Shaun and Darren.

Colin worked for Humphreys stone masons in Park Street and died in August 2001 aged 62.

Benches in St. Saviour’s Church Yard:

Benches in Harvey’s Stream in Eddington:

Benches in Freeman’s Marsh:

Would you like to place a memorial bench?

If you were thinking of placing a memorial bench in Hungerford you need to approach the Recreational, Amenities and War Memorials Committee of Hungerford Town Council or Jed Ramsey the CEO of the Town and Manor of Hungerford and furnish them with the following information\;

• The type and cost of bench – any pictures/specifications/designs would be helpful
• The reason for the bench – who is it a memorial for and the wording of any inscription
• Is there a particular place you wish to place the bench
• What is the plan for maintenance and upkeep of the bench – would this be done by yourself?
• Do you wish the bench to be gifted to HTC so that the council would be responsible for maintenance and it would become one of their assets