Heritage Lottery Fund award enables completion of Chorley’s major remembrance project

The Chorley Pals Memorial charity, based in the Lancashire market town of Chorley, has been awarded £270,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in support of the Chorley Remembers project, it is being announced today.

Chorley Cenotaph

Chorley Cenotaph

Chorley Remembers will explore and commemorate the service of local men and women in conflicts throughout the 20th century. The project will culminate in the engraving the names of the fallen around the town’s war memorial in Astley Park – something which hasn’t been done since its unveiling in May 1924.

Alongside this, a new exhibition telling the story of the social and military history of Chorley will be created, and new education materials created for local schools. An education programme will involve local schools and adults, whilst their website will be revamped to include a searchable database. The Memorial Room at Astley Hall will be redeveloped into a ‘Remembrance Experience’ and the Memorial Arch conserved.

Work will also take place to improve access and interpretation to the Chorley Pals Memorial site, as well as similar interpretation boards at sites around the town, coupled with a heritage trail with a remembrance theme.

Commenting on the award, the town’s Member of Parliament and Chairman of the project, Lindsay Hoyle, said “I would like to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for recognising the aims and outcomes of the project, not only from a heritage point of view but for its legacy for the town and the whole community. A lot of people have been working tirelessly on this project for the last eighteen months and the award is a fitting recognition of all their hard work. I know they, along with the families and relatives of the 850 men to be recorded on the war memorial, will be take great pride in working on and seeing the project completed”.

The Memorial Arch at the entrance to Astley Park

The Memorial Arch at the entrance to Astley Park

Sara Hilton, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund North West, said; “We at the Heritage Lottery Fund are delighted to be able to support the Chorley Pals Memorial. The history of conflict over the last 150 years has had a huge impact on the town and its people. This project will enable more people to learn about and explore their local heritage, particularly the part their community played and the sacrifices that were made by previous generations.”

Echoing those comments was local historian, Steve Williams, who devised the Chorley Remembers project, saying “This is great news, not only for those connected with the project but for the whole town. The award will allow us to deliver all elements of the project, with the work being viewed and available to future generations”.

Since the Boer War the Chorley and surrounding villages have provided servicemen and women to fight in all major conflicts. The town has had a barracks and drill hall since Victorian times supplying volunteers to the armed forces for over 150 years, including 3,500 in the First World War – around 6% of the entire population of Chorley.

Chorley ROF was one of the Royal Ordinance factories, at its peak employing over 40,000 people in producing munitions, including involvement in the bouncing bombs used in the famous Dambusters raid in May, 1943. The factory has closed down gradually over the intervening decades but has played an important part in the history of the town; the project intends to record the workers story.

The aim is to complete the project overall by December 2012 and will include further research and a memories project, exhibitions, talks, workshops and book about the project, finishing with a ‘Legacy Concert’ just before Christmas next year.