The history of Rugby's war memorial

Rugby's war memorial takes the form of a pair of wrought iron gates with gold decoration, supported by two Portland stone piers with ornamental mountings.

The names of the men of Rugby who fell in the major wars of the twentieth century are inscribed on the piers.

The gates were funded by public subscription after World War I, the Secretary of the War Memorial Committee being Captain Hooper, who was also charged with the task of overseeing the opening ceremony.

The gates were unveiled on Sunday 12th March 1922, which fortunately, in view of the fact that this was a completely outdoor event, was a sunny day. The unveiling was carried out by Field Marshal Earl French of Ypres, assisted by Mr and Mrs Hardman, who had lost three sons in the war. The ceremony attracted thousands of people, while the inner area was reserved for subscribers and families of the fallen.

The gates were then dedicated by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, Dr A A David, a former Headmaster of Rugby School. Mr Tom Reynolds, a local builder who had also lost three sons in the war, formally opened the gates with a large key presented by Foster and Dicksee, a local firm of building contractors. He was allowed to keep this key as a souvenir.

After Mr Reynolds had walked through the gates, those assembled sang "O God our help in ages past", and the ceremony concluded with the laying of wreaths.

After World War II the names of those who fell in that conflict were added to the piers. The World War I names include only those from the then small urban area of Rugby, as this was before borough status was obtained - hence some names will appear, for example, on the New Bilton Memorial in Croop Hill Cemetery but not on the town memorial.

The memorial gates formed the entrance to Whitehall Recreation Ground, Hillmorton Road. In 1987 they were moved eastwards of their original position to allow for an access road through to the sports centre, and were given greater prominence at the centre of a memorial garden. The remembrance Sunday service and parade is centred on the gates and the area in front of them each November, after which wreaths remain attached to the gates for several months. In 2005, two new names were added to the right pillar.

The names of the dead of the two World Wars are also inscribed in the book of remembrance, housed within a glass lidded carved wooden case, kept in the foyer of the town hall. A page of this volume is turned each day so that all the names are seen in perpetual rotation.

Finding out more

Websites available for family history searches from the war years are:

Family searches

The Council is able to offer a service for family searches. Please try and give as much information as possible about the people you are trying to locate.

The fee charged is £20.00 for administration.

Allow 21 days for processing.

There are some websites that may also help with your search: