National Recording Project

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Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009

DAME SARAH LEES MEMORIAL

Summary

Type Shaft , Fountain

     Form of memorial suggested by a bulb grwoing in Werneth Park at a time when an exhibition of the Beautiful Oldham Society was being held. The striving upwards and growth through all time is symbolised by the column in an organic form forcing its way through the bronze base as a symbol of time. The bronze base is in two parts: the upper hexagonal part consists of a portrait panel of Dame Lees, a panel of appropriate lettering, and four panels symbolic of the Seasons-a thin figure uncurling from an ovate shape symbolises Spring; the Summer figure is full and mature; Autumn shows a wilting, while Winter curls up once again to the ovate shape. The lower part is circular, symbolising Eternity, and on this are signs of the |odiac, suggesting the Universe. The sings for the months of each season are directly under the figure representing that season. The display fountain is a symbol of the Fountain of Truth and the whole is built on the plan formation of a cross. At north, south east and west sides are four drinking fountains represnting the respective winds. Figure representing the north is huddled up, figure for east also suggests piercing cold of that wind, the south shows a complacency, and the west is pullingon a cloak as a protection against rain. Display fountain pumps 350 gallons per minute.
     The memorial was provided by a committee representing the "community, the rich and poor of Oldham who had subscribed to the memorial." (2) The appeal was sponsored by Aldermen Wrigley and Bainbridge, along with the mayor. The sculptor, Hargreaves Whitehead, spoke at the unveiling, saying that he felt the design should symbolise the work done by Dame Lees, and noted that as mch local labour as possible had been used. Sarah Lees' daughter donated Werneth Park to the town in [date]. Mr J. S. Dodd, formally handing over the memorial to the town, said that as children played about the monument, they would be taught that a woman lived in Oldham who stood out as a pinnacle of strength through difficult times. However, the statues of the Four Winds were stolen in 1991, but found in a second hand shop in Shaw in March of that year and reinstalled in 1992 [needs checking]
     Sarah Lees (1843-1935) was "one of the first prominent women to take part in public life," and was the first woman to sit on Oldham Town Council. She was elected from the Hollinwood Ward after the passing of the Qualification of Women Act 1907. She was also the first woman councillor to be elected in Lancashire. She was subsequently Alderman and Mayor, president of Oldham Royal Infirmary, member of the Court of Manchester University, chairman of the Oldham Branch of the League of Nations. Became first freeman of the borough of Oldham in November 1909, and became mayor November 9 1910, the second lady mayor to be installed in the country. Awarded an honorary degree by Manchester University in July 1914 (LLD). Became a Dame August 25 1917 in recognition of service during the war. "She was imbued with a sense of civic patriotism, believing that women whould have equal citizenship with men."(1)

Inscriptions

THIS MEMORIAL IS ERECTED/BY THE TOWNSPEOPLE OF/OLDHAM AND FRIENDS/TO THE MEMORY OF/DAME SARAH LEES DBE LLD/SHE TRUSTED GOD/AND SERVED THE PEOPLE

Contributor details

Contributor Role
Hargreaves Whitehead, W Sculptor

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Base Stone None
Drum Bronze None
Column/obelisk Stone 866cm high approx
Pool/fountain Stone 800cm wide
Raft Reinforced concrete None
Four Winds Figures None 133cm high approx

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
MR/OLD10 MR
General condition Fair
Surface condition
  • Metallic staining
Structural condition
  • Cracks, splits, breaks, holes
Vandalism
  • Graffiti
Road None
Precise location Werneth Park
A-Z ref None
OS ref None

Sorry, we have no precise geographical information for this item.

Date of design 1937
Year of unveiling 1937
Unveiling details 25 September 1937
Commissioned by Dame Lees Memorial Committee
Duty of care None
Listing status Don't know
At risk? Don't know

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