Iconic Saddleworth monument reaches 100

FOR MANY people it is the very first sign of entering Saddleworth. For miles around, the Pots and Pans cenotaph towers over the valleys and villages.

And today, May 19, marks 100 years since the monument’s foundation stone was laid.

It was laid on May 19, 1923 by Mrs G A.Schofield. The architect was Gilbert Howcroft and the builder C Winterbottom.

Construction work took about five months, with the project costing in the region of £2,000.

Pots and Pans in the distance by Anthony Lomax

But a bitter debate back in 1919 questioned whether the iconic memorial would actually get off the ground…

The First World War officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, and the rest of that year saw local Saddleworth communities commemorate the fathers, sons and brothers who never returned.

But the idea of erecting a permanent memorial for the district transpired into a heated dispute. There was a massive divide between those advocating a cenotaph and those who wanted something more practical – with the idea of a cottage infirmary a strong alternative.

There was a lack of local medical facilities, so the ensuing peace was seen as the opportunity to provide a hospital.

Pots and Pans by Louise Reed

This view was supported by many former soldiers and local scientist and historian Brandon Brierley claimed a hospital would be ‘a far worthier tribute to our noble dead than a useless obelisk.’

The controversy continued into the 1920s but Saddleworth Council finally pledged their support to building a memorial on Pots and Pans and a design was revealed by Gilbert Howcroft in 1920.

The names of 259 men were inscribed on the original plaques, which loosely faced the village they were representing.

A ceremony was arranged to unveil the new memorial and large crowds battled the Saddleworth rain and wind to listen to speeches from servicemen and a rendition of the Last Post.

Although Pots and Pans cenotaph still stands strong, the ceremony did raise concern over potential damage that ‘outsiders’ could inflict.

Pots and Pans winter by Ellie Cronin

Changes were made to the monument following the Second World War when it was decided that Howcroft’s memorial should include names of those who died in the later conflict.

Their inclusion coincided with the addition of Springhead’s fallen servicemen for both World Wars – Springhead possessed their own memorial so were originally excluded from the Pots and Pans obelisk.

The memorial still stands to serve the people of Saddleworth and the annual Remembrance Day celebration is just as poignant and respectful as the original unveiling ceremony of 1923.


One Reply to “Iconic Saddleworth monument reaches 100”

  1. Still banging about, “outsiders,” as if Saddleworth wasn’t 5 minutes drive away from the rest of Oldham, (that one never gets old and it’s always made me laugh.)

    Even Pot & Pans is only about half a hour’s stiff walk/scramble up from a main road and you can get even nearer still before you have to get out and walk if you drive.

    I never entirely understood why they put it right on top of a hill though; although it is a useful landmark that’s nearly always visible from much of Oldham, but it’s always been worth effort it takes to get up there and the walk along the ridge towards Castleshaw and the cut across the moors and then down into Delph or past the reservoirs to Denshaw is still one of my favourite perambulations.

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