The men of Collingham and Linton who fell in the various armed conflicts of the 20th Century are commemorated on a number of memorials in the villages.
In Collingham, a memorial tablet of bronze set in wood, commemorating those men of the parish who died in the First World War, is to be found on the north wall of the nave of St. Oswald’s Church between the first and second windows from the west end of the church. This memorial was first proposed at a Church Vestry meeting held at 7.15pm on Thursday January 29th 1920 chaired by the vicar, H.B. Beckwith with Messrs T.M. Twidale (People’s Warden), Alf Cooke, Irwin Daniel, R.C. Davies, and W. Wray, and news of the idea was spread to the village on the 9th April 1920 when a short item was published in the Parish Magazine.
In the meantime, the Faculty to allow the placing of the memorial in the church was granted to the vicar and the church wardens, Frederick William Dalby and Thomas Marritt Twidale by the Bishop of Ripon on 1st March 1920. The memorial was made by Mr C.H. Wynne of Leeds and commemorates the 16 Collingham men who were killed during the Great War. The inscription reads “To the Glory of God, in memory of the following parishioners of Collingham who laid down their lives for their country during the Great War, 1914-1918”. It was unveiled and dedicated at a special service held in the afternoon of Sunday 14th March 1920. The service opened with the hymn “Brief life is here our portion”, and was followed by prayers taken from a special form of service including the 124th Psalm commencing “If the Lord Himself had not been on our side”. The lesson was taken from the Song of Solomon and was read by the Rev. Hy. Scott, Weslyan minister, and was followed by the hymn “Let saints on earth in concert sing”. The unveiling and dedication was performed by the Rev. Canon Lascelles, Vicar of Harewood. The list of names was read by the Rev Scott and he concluded by an address in which he spoke of the spirit in which Collingham should try to carry on the memorial. After the Nunc Dimitis, the Rev Canon Lascelles preached a sermon based on the text of Romans VIII, 38-39, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, not life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the Love of God, which is in Jesus Christ our Lord”. He spoke of the losses sustained by parents, friends, and relatives of the dead, but “their happiness in knowing that they had done their duty”.
A second memorial tablet is also to be found in Collingham church, to commemorate those men of the village who fought and died in the Second World War. Following this conflict, in 1948, the Parochial Church Council discussed a proposal to place a second memorial in the church to commemorate those parishioners who had fallen in the 1939-1945 conflict. After a number of enquiries about the design of the new tablet, a design for a brass tablet framed in wood in a style to match the 1914-1918 tablet was approved by the PCC at its meeting of 31st May 1949, and the vicar, the Rev. Unthank, and the churchwardens applied for a new Faculty from the diocese to move the existing tablet and to erect a new Second World War memorial. The estimate for the work was £48 and the PCC proposed to launch an appeal for the money. By December 1949 £84 had been raised by subscriptions and the tablet was almost ready for mounting and dedication. There were long discussions at PCC meetings to plan when the dedication service would be held. One problem discussed was the type and position of the shelf for flower vases which was proposed to be placed under the memorial tablets. Eventually the PCC failed to reach a decision and the vicar proposed the setting up of a special committee to decide the matter! By February 1950, the tablet was ready to be dedicated and it was decided to ask Dr Lawson to perform the unveiling. The dedication service took place on Sunday 30th April 1950. This tablet names the 11 village men who gave their lives in the Second World War. The church was packed for the service which started with Lessons read by Mr C.W. Mason and Mr A.J. Elston and prayers said by the Methodist Minister, the Rev. J.F. Jones. The dedication was performed by The Rev. J.B. Unthank and a wreath was laid, on behalf of the British Legion by Mr G Forster of Linton. In his address, the Rural Dean, the Rev. H.H. Griffith, Vicar of Harewood said that “every day should be a day of remembrance of the cause for which so many lives were sacrificed. Loss of memory”, he said, “was serious in the individual, but was much more serious in the Nation, and he was aghast when he looked around and saw everywhere so many people living for themselves and with no thought for others, and the crime and cruelty rampant. The battle for peace and happiness and against war must be fought, and there was a power in the human soul that was greater than that of the hydrogen bomb with its menace to mankind”.
At the time of its unveiling, subscriptions towards the Second World War Memorial Tablet stood at £85/6/6, a balance in the bank of £26/19/4 after all expenses had been paid. Subsequent PCC meetings decided that some of this money should be spent in moving the British Legion Flags and lighting the memorial tablets, and any excess money should then be spent on planting a row of double flowering cherry trees in the churchyard. These trees were purchased and planted along the west edge of the churchyard in December 1950 where they still form a wonderful spectacle each year.
Another obvious Collingham memorial to the parishioners killed in the Great War is the Memorial Hall. Just over a month after the Great War had ended, on Tues 17th December 1918, a public meeting was called on the suggestion of the Parish Council to consider what steps should be taken to commemorate the war and the men who had lost their lives fighting in it. At this meeting, according to a contemporary report in The Wetherby News, Mr H. Twidale, Clerk to the Parish Council, announced that the council suggested that an institute should be erected as a permanent memorial to those fallen men. The Council and the Vicar, the Rev H.B. Beckwith, had clearly done their homework, as they had already identified a certain piece of land of about one acre – Brewerton’s Garth – in the centre of the village. This land was in the possession of the Lady Hasting’s Trust, and it was considered that an existing building on the site, which was used for storing straw and grain, would form the basis of the proposed institute.
It was agreed that a public subscription should be started to finance the building of a Memorial Hall, and a small committee was formed to appoint architects to prepare plans. A full meeting, on the 6th March 1919, received the report that the Lady Elizabeth Hastings Charity were prepared to sell the site and that Mr W. Alban Jones had agreed to act as Architect. It was also announced that £467 had already been raised by residents.
By 1st April 1919 the Architect had prepared plans, and agreement was reached to buy the land for £150. The artist, Mr Owen Bowen, had volunteered to paint a special picture of the village and present it to the Hall. By this time the voluntary subscriptions totalled £654. During the next two months ammendments were made to the plans and the scheme went out to tender. On August 7th 1919 the committee heard that the lowest tender was for £1,659. This was greatly in excess of the money raised, and it was agreed that the following work should be omitted: "the whole of the drainage, the verandah, the whole of the lavatory and W.C. work, all the work on the Ladies Room and Kitchen, the portable stage and the Reading Room." As a consequence of this, a revised price of £1,084 was received which included £47 for the "erection of two earth closets". Instructions were given to the builder in September 1919 with a completion date of January 20th 1920.
Problems with these plans became immediately obvious - Wetherby Council refused to allow earth closets and the committee's finances did not permit the required but costly drainage. Another meeting was called and having announced the additional cost of drainage, the Vicar pleads for unity in the village.To overcome the financial shortfall, it was agreed that the Committee should ask for loans from the village. £256 was raised, but this was still short of the £400 target.
At around this time the functioning of the Hall and its administration was settled. There would be a committee of eight residents who would produce the Rules and Regulations. 22 residents stood to be on this committee and, after a vote, the eight were chosen. Two rules in particular were hotly debated when seeking public approval, but both were approved by a slim majority - so alcoholic drinks and any form of gambling were strictly forbidden in the Hall.
The financial difficulties now caused more embarrassment and for a short period all building work stopped and the opening date had to be postponed. The matter of the opening had already caused some embarrassment, by an unfortunate misunderstanding in the committee, Lord Hawke, Lord Harewood and the Revd. Lascelles (Vicar of Harewood) had all been asked to open the Hall, and all had agreed. Now the postponement was communicated to everyone, except Lord Harewood, who, unfortunately arrived to open the building a month too early.
Finally the official opening, on the 14th February 1920, was carried out, not by Lord Harewood, or Lord Hawke, but by Mrs Wheler of Ledston Hall, who was a descendant of Lady Elizabeth Hastings. The Hall was a splendid achievement being the first memorial to be completed by any West Riding village but it was paid for by money raised entirely by residents. The whole project was completed in just over 5 months at a total cost of £1,128.
Although increasingly used, there were still two problems. Firstly, the purchase of the land had not been completed, and the Committee still owed £400 for the building. The Committee therefore decided to sell off or lease land to form Bowling and Tennis clubs and a Collingham Pageant was run to raise money. By July 1921 the Hall was complete and the fixing of the Hall of Memorial Tablet to the Fallen was carried out at an event where the audience overflowed onto the street.
Throughout the 1920s numerous small improvements were made to the Hall including the formation of the billiard room and the boys reading and games room (now called the library). Electric lighting was also provided for the first time:
By the early 1930s there seems to have been a decline in Hall use, and the annual general meeting heard of a £600 loss. Questions were raised about the continued use of the Hall. However the coming of the Second World War brought increased use, both for fund raising events but also since The War Office commandeered the Hall from 9pm each night until 5am the next morning for use by The Home Guard.
After the war, the Hall was further improved and extended, with new toilets, a new staircase to the Billiard room and the creation of a large new kitchen. These works were completed by 1956. A further extension/improvement took place in 1968, when the new supper room was completed.
Our history of the Hall can now be brought up to date, since in 2020, 100 years after its first opening, further work was done on toilets, the entranceway and interior layout and a new door was placed leading directly off the car-park. This photograph illustrates the Hall in 2018 decorated to commemorate 100 years since the end of The Great War.