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Monday 23 March 2009

More on Aikton & ownership of memorials

I recently received an enquiry about Aikton memorial from the Clerk to the parish council.

In the absence of any known records she wanted to confirm who, if anyone, legally owned the memorial. The names require re-cutting and there is a question of cost.

As with so many places the creation of a memorial at Aikton was a spontaneous response to a need - there was little thought of the niceties of ownership - Remembrance was the focus of all thought. The process followed a familiar pattern.

The parish council met on April 14, 1919 shortly before the signing of peace and unanimously agreed that a memorial be placed in the churchyard. It was further agreed that the whole council should act as 'The War Memorial Committee' with the power to invite or co-opt others as necessary. To pay for it a house to house collection was initiated throughout the parish on April 21, a common form of fund raising and usually very successful. In a rural community such as Aikton a refusal to contribute at least a few pennies would be virtually unthinkable. Having raised a sum of money the committee must have approached Beattie's of Carlisle to suggest a design for, on September 3, 1920, they gathered in the churchyard to agree a site for the memorial's erection. In April 1921 Canon Hasell was approached with a request that he unveil the memorial. I don't know the date of the ceremony nor any other details.

It was in the years following that the problem of ownership emerged. As memorials were being created it was generally expected that communities who had such a huge emotional investment in their purpose would maintain them. But life is fickle and it became clear that many needed a defined legal status. Thus in 1923 The War Memorials - Local Authority Act recommended that local authorities take responsibility for those memorials that had no clear ownership. So it is that a number of memorials in Low Furness are maintained by Barrow Borough Council even though Barrow had no part in their creation. I am sure Carlisle does the same and maybe the County Council?

Happy to relate Aikton PCC & church have decided to fund the re-cutting of the names.

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