The news that the Burton Latimer war memorial has to be moved to make way for road improvements has prompted Mr Douglas Ashby to look among his collection of old documents and find the programme of the official unveiling ceremony in 1922. Click here for further details of The War Memorial.
The war memorial was erected by voluntary subscription which raised £700. The cross itself designed by Mr J A Gotch, the Kettering architect, and built of Weldon stone is surmounted by a stone figure of St George holding a bronze lance. The site of the memorial was given to the town by the late Mr T W Harpur, then Lord of the Manor.
Site of Old Village Cross
Mr Ashby tells me that it is interesting to remember that even before the memorial was erected the area was always referred to as the Cross. “Apparently there used to be stalls there and the coaches turned round there.” He told me.
It certainly seems certain that there must have been an old village cross on the site many years ago.
The unveiling ceremony took place on Sunday, November 12 1922, and many dignitaries and notable people were present.
General Lord Horne actually unveiled the cross, and the chairman of Northamptonshire County Council, Sir W Ryland Adkins MP gave an address. The then Rector of Burton, the Rev H L Lethbridge, and his immediate predecessor, who had been in the town during the war years, the Rev G L Richardson, were both at the dedication service, which was conducted by the Archdeacon of Oakham.
Future of the Cross
When I heard this story of the unveiling, I made inquiries about the future of the site.
The present scheme being carried out near Pioneer Avenue, where a keep left bollard is to be placed eventually, will continue along High Street and will include the whole site of the Memorial. It will extend down Church Street past its junction with Meeting Lane.
The corner is to be built up in Church Street and the present steep incline leading up to the main road is to be eliminated, improving the view towards both Kettering and Higham Ferrers.
The kerbs on both sides of High Street, are to be widened into verges probably to be tarred but this will still allow a 30-foot carriageway and a keep left bollard.
The only pity is that the rest of High Street remains comparatively narrow. From a 33-foot carriageway in the stretch between the Station Road junction and the Pioneer Avenue junction the road will narrow to 23 feet beyond the site of the cross improvements. Click here for information about new roadway.
Note: Within twenty years the memorial was back at more or less its original location after further alterations were made to the High Street/Church Street junction. Careful examination of the photos above will show, however, that the statue on top of the memorial does not have the same orientation as it originally had when it was first erected at The Cross. However, one benefit of the double move has been that the memorial has been renovated twice, which accounts for it being in such good condition when compared with many others around the country.