In 1952 Mr Williams. “crippled in a Mosquito crash”, during World War 2, was one of the first 20 people to be housed in the newly built War Memorial Village in Derby. He was given the keys by Lord Hives, the Chairman of Rolls-Royce representing 1 of the 20, initial donors, who funded this unique project.
Conceived by the Rotary Club, and built on land donated by Derby Borough Council, it was a “memorial” developed specifically for ex-Service personnel who had been disabled in active service. The first foundation stone was laid by Princess Elizabeth in 1949 when she said:
“A memorial should indeed remind all who look upon it of the valour and self-sacrifice it commemorates but just as the men who died performed the greatest service for their fellow countrymen so the memorial we raise to them should serve those that follow after. Therefore, I think that the people of Derby have shown both wisdom and imagination in deciding to build this village.”
70 years later, her daughter, The Princess Royal, Princess Anne visited the village to take part in the Anniversary celebrations.
The Village has evolved over the intervening years, and it is now managed by a team of 11 Trustees who have maintained that original ethos at the core of their future plans.
The original places were built with very large gardens, by modern standards, giving plenty of room for an allotment adjacent to the house. Over time, the houses have been upgraded and, in some cases they have been completely re-developed to make best use of the land and space – increasing the number of properties. There are now nearly 50 properties housing just over 60 people. The Trustees now have a 20 year plan to make sure that every house has the advantages of modern standards and technology.
The Trustees wanted to take the opportunity to recognise the 70th Anniversary of the start of building and the summer of celebrations started on the 18th July 2019 with the visit by Princess Anne. The event took place on the memorial area adjacent to the village which had been subject to an extensive renewal programme, including the installation of 4 commemorative benches. A project which benefitted from substantial community involvement including Derby City Council, Derby Homes and a range of local suppliers who provided work at low cost, or no cost.
And today, it was re-dedicated as the Memorial Square.
The crowning addition to this Square, which was revealed by Princess Anne, was the new polished granite obelisk monument remembering those that fell in service, standing opposite the weathered stone statue of the lone soldier.
2019 is also the Centenary of the first Council Houses built in Derby, and a plaque commemorating that was unveiled by Princess Anne. This will start a year of events to remember this anniversary.
The War Memorial Village is a jewel for Derby. Many people will have driven along Chellaston Road or Merrill Way every day and not know that this unique place exists just yards away from them.
Many soldiers have seen their days out in these houses, after having suffered in active service. Some would say that such an opportunity should be extended to all service personnel disabled in action over the years….and they would be right!
The current residents of the Memorial Village, the local school children, the people of Allenton and Shelton Lock, and many others will remember this special day, with entertainment from the glamorous D-Day Darlings….!
“The living owe it to those who can no longer speak to tell their story for them”
(the dedication on the new monument)