War Memorial Coldstream

It took some time for Coldstream to have a war memorial, but it was well worth it, and this monument still stands today in memory of the fallen. In November 1919 an expert visited Coldstream to advise on the placement of the memorial. With the Town Council, he examined six sites and recommended the ground in front of the Parish Church Manse (Trafalgar House). This recommendation must have been turned down.

In December 1921, the memorial was under design and the site for it, at the entrance to Home Park (where it is now), was developed. The land previously belonged to Miss Rowe, and the old dilapidated buildings were to be demolished with a new entrance created into Home Park. Provost Carmichael bought the house and garden, the property of the late Miss Rowe that is, with the idea of constructing a new entrance to the Park incorporating a war memorial. It was gifted to the town on condition that it was only to be used for the purpose specified. The Plan for the War Memorial, designed by William Washington-Brown, was approved by the Sub Committee of the Town Council and endorsed by a public meeting held in the Mechanics’ Institute. Messrs Murray of Duke Street made the railings and gates for the war memorial. This coincided with the Earl of Home presenting Home Park to the people of Coldstream, to be managed by the Town Council.
It was announced that Earl Haig, Commander of British Forces in Europe, would unveil the memorial. This he did, in May 1923, when the headlines read: ‘COLDSTREAM HONOURS ITS GALLANT DEAD – Field Marshall Earl Haig unveils handsome Memorial and delivers inspiring address’. Earl Haig praised the gallant, young men of Coldstream and said Coldstream’s sons had contributed greatly to the war. From mid-day people from other towns arrived in Coldstream, and the streets were lined with several cars. Provost Robert Carmichael, who lost two precious sons in the war, wore his crimson and ermine robes, chain of office and cocked hat. Included in the procession to the memorial were Earl Haig, Lord Home, General Blain, Provost Carmichael, Bailies Elliot and McDougal, Councillors Walter Smith, W. Proud, George Walker, Joseph Scott, Robert Rule John Lillico, Town Clerk Andrew Porteous, Deputy Town Clerk Major D.L. Elder, John Elliot Burgh Surveyor and Mrs John Thompson, Inspector of Poor and Clerk to the War Memorial Committee.

Representatives from the Parish Council were R. Murray (Chair), J. Palmer, A.Fairbairn, W.F. Calder, A. McQueen, A. Smith, G.A. Russell, R. Johnston and W. Patterson. A Guard of Honour was provided by the 4th Battalion, KOSB. The monument was draped with a huge Union Flag and, with some help, the Earl made a good account of unveiling it. Coldstream is very proud of its sacrifice in the Great War, and very proud of its striking memorial. By the October of 1923 the books had been audited and during a War Memorial committee meeting it was reported that the memorial had cost £747-5s-7d to build and that the Town Council were now obliged with its upkeep. Sadly, on occasion, it has had some rough treatment. For example, in 1928, the surroundings of the memorial fell into a poor state with the rear of the memorial being used by some as a public convenience. People were compelled to stop doing this and the groundsman of the cricket club was asked to tidy up the shrubs etc. Today thankfully, the citizens of Coldstream and visitors treat the memorial with the utmost respect. It now of course includes victims of the Second World War.

Linked to the Forces and the War was an unusual visitor to Coldstream in 1926. Provost Carmichael and Bailie Proud, in front of a large crowd at the Town Hall, welcomed an ex-Coldstream Guard (1863-1870), Francis. E. Wood, who had walked from Wellington Barracks in London to Coldstream, to try and encourage recruitment to the regiment of the Coldstream Guards. He had pulled 80lb of luggage in a hand-cart all the way from London. His arrival in Coldstream was quite an event. He was a guest at a smoking concert later that evening where the Earl of Home, who was in the chair, described Mr Wood as ‘a splendid example of British Pluck’. After spending the weekend at the Newcastle Arms Hotel as a guest of the local British Legion, and taking tea at the Hirsel on the Sunday, he set off southwards on the Monday. Whether this led to new recruits for the Coldstream Guards remains unclear.

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