Soldiers march through streets of Sheffield for centenary of war memorial trees

A soldier stands guard at one of the trees
A soldier stands guard at one of the trees

Nine soldiers marched through the streets of Sheffield to mark the centenary of some of the city's war memorial trees.

A memorial event was held in Crookesmoor to mark 100 years since trees were planted in honour of the 77 former Crookesmoor School pupils who lost their lives during World War I.

Soldiers march through Sheffield

Soldiers march through Sheffield

The volunteers dressed as soldiers represented each of the nine trees due for felling under Sheffield Council's Streets Ahead programme on Oxford Street and Tay Street, Crookesmoor.

The soldiers marched from Sheffield Train Station, through the Peace Garden and then through Weston Park today.

They gathered at the corner of Crookes Valley Road and Oxford Street for a two-minute silence and memorial service.

Dignitaries including Deputy Lord Mayor of Sheffield Coun Anne Murphy and Christine Spender, Royal British Legion County chairman were also in attendance.

In her speech Pam Liversidge, Deputy Lieutenant of South Yorkshire, said: "It is memorials like this site, dedicated to the 77 former pupils of Crookesmoor School, which are tangible and visible reminders of our early generations who made the ultimate sacrifice along with millions of other young men in World War I.

"In doing so they guaranteed us our freedom and democracy.

"Sadly many more men and women were to lose their lives during World War II.

"Here in Sheffield, Yorkshire and the wider UK, there are thousands of memorials to both these world wars. It is surely the least we can do as a nation to recognise, protect and cherish these memorials as reminders of the tragedies of war.

"Congratulations to all of you who have worked hard to ensure that this memorial to those young men of Crookesmoor School, planted on March 20, 1917, is still visible and valued."

Local councillor Magid Magid said it is believed the memorials are the earliest of their kind because they were planted before the war ended.

A local action group has researched the former pupils and included information about each of them on plaques along Oxford Street and Tay Street.

Following the service each of the soldiers stood next to one of the nine trees due to be felled.

The Sheffield Tree Action Group also set up a pop-up exhibition nearby about their campaign, which hopes to save dozens of memorial trees in Sheffield from being felled.

About 100 trees were planted on Western Road, in Crookes, in 1919 to commemorate former Westways pupils during World War I. About 60 remain, with 23 due to be felled.

Bryan Lodge, councillor for environment at Sheffield Council said: “Sheffield City Council recognises the importance of retaining memorial sites across the city and continues to work closely with the War Memorials Trust and the local community to ensure fitting and long-lasting tributes to those who gave their lives for this country.

“We remain committed to retaining and honouring five memorial sites across Sheffield and by replanting and rededicating these memorials over the coming months, we hope to be able to unveil new fitting memorial sites in time for Armistice Day this November.

“Given the unique nature of these memorials, the council will ensure that all possible options for preservation and future maintenance of these sites are fully explored before any work commences.”