Onchan War Memorial - History

Following the First World War a public collection was held for the erection of a War Memorial to those persons from the Parish of Onchan who lost their lives in the Great War. 

The trustees of the late James Spittall agreed to give a small plot of land at the junction of Church Avenue and Main Road for the purpose of erecting a memorial. The Deed plan for such gift was prepared in June 1923 by Jos. E. Teare although the actual Deed of Conveyance was not prepared and indented until 15th November 1924.

War Memorial - original location

The land was given to the "Onchan Trustees" who comprised the Captain of The Parish, Chairman of the Village Commissioners and Chairman of the Parish Commissioners with their respective successors in office being included in the expression Onchan Trustees.

The memorial was designed by Mr Archibald Knox with a wheel cross and lettering on the front face, the wheel cross with celtic interlace pattern being very similar to a Celtic cross in the porch of St. Peter's Church. The reverse has an artistically adapted replica of the carving on Thorid's Cross also in the porch of the Onchan Parish Church. The monumental mason was Mr. T.S. Quayle of St. Georges Street, Douglas and the large block of Irish limestone arrived on the Island in May 1923.

At the time of its unveiling it was described as being twelve feet long, twenty-eight inches wide and ten inches thick. It was set into a five-ton boulder which had been taken from part of the Howstrake Estate.

The unveiling took place on 16th November 1924. The memorial, which had been covered with a large Union Jack was unveiled by Mr & Mrs R M Broadbent late of Eskadale, Groudle. They had lost three sons during the war. The memorial was dedicated by the Reverend Robert Wakeford M.A, Vicar of Onchan. Also attending were the Reverend Aaron Smith Superintendent of the Douglas Primitive Methodist circuit and the Reverend S. Paul Hadley, Junior Wesleyan Minister. The service took place in the presence of His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor.

Onchan War Memorial - New location

By indenture dated 10th November 1925 the trustees of James Spittall gave a further plot of land to the Onchan Trustees as an extension to the area occupied by the War Memorial. A Deed plan was drawn by Jos. E. Teare in December 1924.

The triple stone (flat plaque type) to commemorate those members of the district lost during the Second World War was also carved by the firm of Thomas Quayle of St. Georges’ Street to the design of Mr Wilfred T. Quayle, architect and surveyor of Athol Street, Douglas. It also was executed in Irish limestone.

Road widening works were necessitated in Onchan from the mid 1970's and this was undertaken on a phased basis. The result was the necessity to move the War Memorial which was undertaken firstly by the formality of the "Onchan Trustees" and the Spittall Trustees agreeing to the site being transferred to one held by the Onchan Village Commissioners between Elm Tree House and a proposed development incorporating a new library opposite the top of Royal Avenue. The Spittall Trustees agreed to surrender the land which would have had to revert back to them if the site was no longer required for a war memorial and the Commissioners undertook to provide the alternative site and to maintain and protect the War Memorial under the War Memorials (Local Authorities Powers Act 1927) The Commissioners undertook to do this by agreement signed 26th March 1982 and approval was granted at a sitting of Her Majesty's High Court of Justice

Chancery Division held at Douglas on 31st March 1982. The petition of the Commissioners to undertake the various exchanges of land and re-erection of the War Memorial was approved by the Isle of Man Local Government Board on 4th June 1982 and by Tynwald on 13th July.

The War Memorial was moved by Format Building 'techniques Limited leaving the bolder on the site and setting the memorial into a new mass concrete base. The Second World War tablets which had previously masked the bolder were placed at a slightly lower level so as not to obscure the First World War Memorial. 

A short service was held on 26th September 1982, conducted by Canon Dennis Baggaley, M.A. which also incorporated the dedication of two memorial seats to the late Canon J. Duffield and the late Father J. McGrath.

NOTE: The boulder (glacially borne granite from Scotland) in which the First World War memorial was originally placed was removed in 1986 (Manx Heritage Year) and relocated at the other end of Main Road. Now known as the Heritage Stone it commemorates the amalgamation of Onchan Village Commissioners and Onchan Parish Commissioners on 1st April 1986.


War Memorial - Drawing of New Location