One of the largest community events to be staged in the borough this year will take place in the Wrythe area of Carshalton on Saturday July 15. It marks the unveiling of a new memorial to commemorate the local men that sacrificed their lives in The Great War.
Everyone is invited to attend a unique remembrance event to honour ‘The Men of the Wrythe’.
“This will be a fitting tribute to the 245 soldiers that signed up to serve in WW1 from just four streets on the Wrythe: St Andrew’s Road, St James Road, St John’s Road and William Street,” said Chair of Wrythe Memorial Events, Dick Bower.
“In those days, the Wrythe was an ‘outlying portion’ of Carshalton village with 195 tiny cottages, occupied by very large and poor working families. They had no running water and had to use a communal pump. There were five small shops, one public house and two beer houses and cows grazed in the fields where the petrol station now stands.
“The landlord of the Cricketers, Fred Bird, a former theatre manager, put up a board on the pub wall, listing the names of ‘Heroes of the Wrythe Gone to Fight for England 1914’. He encouraged the local lads to sign up but stopped adding their names after Willie Bird, known as Fred’s adopted son, died of appendicitis in August 1915, aged around 38. Many of the men who followed the call to arms played in the local football team, then known as the ‘A’s and now Carshalton Athletic, which was managed by Fred and Willie, we believe. The club later planted thirteen trees, one for each of their players lost in the war.
“Around 200 men came home, but many did not return. Forty-five of the men who died were commemorated on the Wrythe by the ‘Willie Bird Cross for the Men of the Wrythe’, which was commissioned by Fred Bird and erected in the churchyard at St Andrew’s Mission, which stood on the corner of Brookfield Avenue When the church was demolished in 1964 and replaced by a block of flats, the cross was moved to All Saints Churchyard, Carshalton, where it remains. Local residents and descendants of the fallen have been waiting for a long time to see a memorial come back to the Wrythe”
Thanks to the initiative and commitment of the St Helier, The Wrythe and Wandle Valley Local Committee, a new cross will be unveiled on the Wrythe at a public ceremony on the morning of 15th July.