Oldfield Park Junior School (Bath) WW1 Memorial Project
Stothert & Pitt (Bath) WW1 Memorial
The engineering and iron foundry company of Stothert & Pitt Ltd. was a major part of Bath's development during the industrial revolution and through the majority of the twentieth century. One might say that the growth and success of Stothert & Pitt Ltd. was a major contributor to the need for the general development of the southern slopes of Bath as a residential conurbation.
Following WW1 there was widespread debate about what form memorials should take in order to appropriately commemorate fallen servicemen. In most cases, the decision was to provide a simple memorial, such as a tablet or stone memorial, but there were also many instances of communities and companies using the opportunity to provide something of benefit to the living, in the name of the dead. The social context was of widespread unemployment, disquiet and poverty, such that the provision of reading rooms, men's clubs and other support for social cohesion was considered welcome, even though many felt that these should be provided separately from the need to commemorate the dead. Still it is the case that Britain is home to many 'Memorial Halls' or 'Memorial Parks'.
Stothert & Pitt Ltd. was active in encouraging its men to serve in the war and many from the company's ranks served, with many no doubtnever to return.
We are not aware of the company of Stothert & Pitt having raised any inscribed memorial listing the names of casualties from among its workforce. Instead it opted to provide an sports ground, which was laid out on ground between the Lower Bristol Road and the Great Western Railway. Owing to it having been just over the parish boundary into Newton St Loe parish, it bore (and still bears) the name 'Newton Memorial Ground'. As of 2018, the sports ground still exists and is still in use for football, cricket, bowls & tennis, but has recently been purchased by Bath Spa University. The original pavilion is also still in place, although attempts to make it safe from vandals have rendered it much less attractive than it would have been when built.
From Bath Chronicle & Weekly Gazette, 21st October 1922:
MESSRS. STOTHERT AND PITT.
NEW SPORTS GROUND FOR EMPLOYEES.
10 ACRE FIELD BOUGHT AT NEWTON.
CRICKET, FOOTBALL, BOWLS, AND TENNIS.
WORK FOR FIRM'S UNEMPLOYED.
The deep interest taken by the management of Stothert and Pitt in matters appertaining to the welfare, comfort, and enjoyment of the hundreds of men in their employ is constantly being demonstrated in one way and another. Practically every branch of pastime, every intellectual and athletic pursuit, has been catered for over a period of many years, but of late the sporting side has been cramped for want of a proper athletic ground. Their pre-war sports ground at Odd Down was given up to augment our food production when the submarine menace became acute and, after making shift with the old Bath City football field at the rear of the Belvoir Castle for two or three years, they had also to vacate this when the extension of the Victoria Works was decided on.
A NEW FIELD.
Since then, temporary accommodation has been found in various parts of Bath, but at long last the firm have secured a fine 10 acres field which, at their own cost, is now to be turned into a first class athletics centre. The object of the scheme is twofold. Side by side with the desire to provide a proper recreation ground is the wish — and a very earnest one too — to find work for some of the married men of the firm who of late have been suspended through the depression in trade. Such a laudable project is assured the interest and good wishes of the Bath public, who will rejoice at the public-spirited policy of Messrs. Stothert and Pitt.
The field purchased is near the Newton Turnpike almost opposite the asphalt works on the Twerton-Newton Road. The ground borders the road on the one side and the Great Western Railway on the other. Overlooking it is the mouth of tunnel through which all trains from Bristol have to pass before entering Twerton. The electric cars from Newton to the city pass within a minute of the site, and the Twerton tram terminus is within a few moments' walking distance.
FOR WORKLESS MEN.
Under the direction of an expert, who has laid out several athletic grounds for the War Office, the field will be levelled where necessary and cricket and tennis pitches turfed. The work will give employment at first to about fifteen men, but as it proceeds this number will be increased, and those who are chosen will have a winter's work assured them, for it is not expected that the ground will be ready for occupation until next spring. As has already been stated, employees of the firm who are now unavoidably suspended through shortage of work will be put on and, with the exception of the expert and his assistant, no outside labour is to be called in. Already the ground has been pegged out and probably by next week the work will have been commenced.
A WAR MEMORIAL.
This new athletics centre is to be the firm's war memorial; a memorial which will not only honour the dead, but help the living and give pleasure to generations yet unborn.
A large pavilion, a bowling green, a cricket pitch (properly laid and turfed), three tennis courts, and pitches for Rugby and Association Football feature in the programme. The field itself is almost level, but where there is the slightest rise or roughness, it will be levelled. A cricket pitch 40 yards square is to be laid down and three properly turfed tennis pitches.
The whole cost will be borne by the firm and next summer the athletic club of Messrs. Stothert and Pitt ought to boast one of the finest recreation centres in the West of England.