City war memorial gets Somme upgrade

Preston's War Memorial
Preston's War Memorial
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Preston always knew its war memorial was a bit special - now the Government has made it official.

The city’s shrine to its war dead has been promoted to Grade I listed status to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme on Friday.

The memorial, unveiled 90 years ago on the Flag Market and restored in 2012, is one of 15 around the country - three of them in the North West - to be either listed or upgraded to commemorate those killed in one of the bloodiest battles in the First World War.

Accrington War Memorial, which honours the famous Accrington Pals, is promoted to Grade II*. The sandstone cross at Penrith in Cumbria, containing names of soldiers from the town who were killed on the first day of the Somme, becomes Grade II listed.

Others on the list remembering pals battalions include Barnsley, Sheffield, Bradford and Leeds.

Preston’s listing is the highest level of recognition, meaning a building or structure is of “exceptional interest, sometimes considered to be internationally important.”

First World War and Heritage Minister David Evennett said: “These memorials are a poignant reminder of those who lost their lives in the Battle of the Somme 100 years ago and an important part of our heritage. It is only right they are protected.”

The monuments were all listed or upgraded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of Heritage England.

Preston’s memorial was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and unveiled by Admiral of the Fleet, Earl Jellicoe in 1926. The sum of £835,600 was spent restoring it in 2012.

It was first listed as Grade II in December 1991 - one of around 340 in Preston. Now it shares top Grade I status with only the Harris Museum and St Walburge’s Church.