Barnsley PAL's Boundary Stone
Although I live in Silkstone Common my first recollection of the boundary stone was a piece in the Parish Council magazine, informing the parishioners that a group calling themselves the Silkstone heritage stones group had been commissioned to carve a series of stones to be placed around the parish boundaries. The sculptor, Mr Tony Slater a Silkstone resident, who had his workshop in the then new heritage centre at Elsecar. The heritage centre had been the site of a former NCB workshop. Mr Slater the commissioned sculptor had the freedom to carve the stones in his own style, but all would have a link with the area in which they would be sited.
The stone had now become known as the the pal's stone and came to my notice in a letter to the Barnsley branch of the York and Lancaster Regimental Association, from the Silkstone heritage stones group. The letter asked if the branch members would consider attending a service of dedication when the stone was eventually sited at Silverwood camp. The branch members agreed to send members to the service of dedication but there was no further communication.
Some fifteen years later, after having seen the stone on several occasions languishing in the Heritage centre yard, and my imminent retirement. I thought that it was perhaps time to do something with the stone. I made a few enquiries at the Heritage centre offices but unfortunately, the staff I spoke to had little or no information about the stone, other than they thought that the heritage centre would be pleased to get rid of the stone.
During January 2008, a parish councillor was delivering flyers in my locality and I asked him what the council intended doing about the stone. He was unable to give me any information but suggested that I attended the next Parish council meeting. In March, the councillors courteously received me at the meeting. The question I wanted to ask was given a higher priority on the agenda to allow me to leave when my business was concluded. I asked the meeting what the intentions of the Parish Council were with regard to the boundary stone. They were obviously bewildered and the first comment was " I suppose this will cost us some money". They eventually decided the only councillor with experience of the stone was Colin Bower, he was on holiday so they would defer this item until the next meeting. Mr Bower attended the next meeting and though he had been a councillor during the time that the stones were commissioned, he had a lot more knowledge of the history of the stones, he was not able to elaborte any further. It was something that had been forgotten by everyone and the council had not given any thought to moving the stone.
At a meeting in the Barnsley Town Hall some time later, I spoke to one of the members in the meeting a Captain David Morris of the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. He advised that I spoke to Captain Alf Smith of the Royal Engineers Squadron in Sheffield to see if they could do something as a training exercise. Captain Morris said he would phone me with the number and contact at the Royal Engineers, which he did the next day. I phoned the R.E. and spoke to S/Sgt Baz Gormley and explained that I was enquiring on behalf of the York and Lancaster Regimental Association and would his unit possibly be interested in moving the stone for us. He said that because the stone had the badge of the R.E. on it, it would probably be of interest to the unit and would speak to his O.C. Major Roden and Captain Smith. Baz followed this call up with a recce of the stone the next day. Baz called back a few days later saying that his OC was interested but they would have to take the project to higher authority. A few days later Baz called again and said that the project had been agreed in principle.
On January 23th 2009 at 07.00hrs a very cold dark and wet morning, I went to the Heritage centre to meet with the 106 Support Troop R.E. who had been given the task of lifting and moving the stone. Due to a mechanical problem on one of the vehicle they did not arrive until 09.30hrs, I was about ready to go home by that time. With the equipment and expertise 106 brought to the project, the stone was loaded and ready to move to Silverwood by about 11.00 hrs, but a brew was in order by then.
The stone about to be loaded onto the vehicle at Elsecar Heritage centre, Jan 24th 2009
In the meantime, I had also been in contact with Derek Pearson who manages the maintenance team at Silverwood Scout Camp. We decided on a suitable site for the stone and in due course, the maintenance team laid a concrete base in good time for the move.
So it was about midday that January day the stone arrived at Silverwood camp. The men of the 106 troop placed in onto the concrete base, with a few minor adjustments by the maintenance team to get a reasonable level. I was reliably informed it was only a “thou” out. The maintenance team then provided the next brew.
After discussing the project with my branch members, we decided that some sort of dedication service would be appropriate. Therefore we developed that into a dedication and remembrance service. As the Pals had marched out of Silverwood on May 13th 1916, I decided to try and make the service as close to the 13th of May as possible. I set the date for May 16th the nearest weekend to the 13th allowing people who wished to attend would not need to take time from work.
I contacted the vicar of Silkstone Simon Moor and he was keen to be a part of the project, but said to be careful not to leave out any other interested parties. He also suggested I ring the Lord Lieutenant David Moody who was also keen to be part of the project. I contacted Silkstone branch of the RBL, Royal engineers regimental association and 106 Support troop, Prince of Wales Own Regiment Regimental Association, Parachute Regimental Association, Colonels Norton and Elliot representing the York and Lancaster Regimental Association and David O’connor of the Silkstone Brass Band.
By the week beginning May 10th a communication problem was pointed out, with the parish council, the scouts and our association making inputs to the arrangements things were getting a bit fragmented. The councillors had invited other councillors and the mayor of Barnsley. The Scouts had invited various members of the scouting movement. All well and good but some had not told others of their plans. It was getting a bit tense. I had been in contact with Mr Derek Pearson and the scout camp mainteance leader and with the vicars help we were able to put our ideas together and a plan was drawn up, a successful plan.
The scout maintenance team had a very busy week preparing for the event. The day of the dedication May 16th arrived and various groups of people started gathering. Members of the Barnsley Pals Motor Scooter club were well represented. Mr John Hislop who had shown an interest from the day of installation and passing members fo the public also stayed to observe. At 17.00hrs Mr Billingham DCM JP Chairman of the Silverwood management committee cordially welcomed all groups to the service before handing over to the vicar Simon Moor who conducted the service. Colonel Norton was representing the York and Lancaster regiment along with Colonel Elliot and members of the Regiemental Association. Colonel Norton had requested that I meet the Lord Lieutenant and introduce him to the invited dignitaries, in the event he knew more of them than I did, so the job was easyThe members of the maintenance team were on hand at the end of the service with cups of hot drinks and biscuits.
The Day of the Dedication of the Barnsley PAL's Stone
I was pleased with a fitting end to a worthwhile project and
thank all who helped to make it so.
Sid Dyson Secretary
During the months I was involved in moving the Barnsley Pals sculpture from Elsecar Heritage centre to Silverwood in Silkstone. I was informed that another stone had appeared in Wombwell cemetery.
I went to have a look at the stone which had been placed by the side of an old stone church by the friends of Wombwell cemetery. The stone is a replica of the stone which was erected at Serre in France though not quite as professional .
It was obvious that whoever had painted the Regimental badge on to the stone had little knowledge of what the badge looked like.
I contacted the members of the Friends of Wombwell cemetery and explained the colours used were not quite as they should be. The person I spoke to said if I could get them a photograph or some other picture, they would ask one of the students to remove the old image and copy the photo image on to the stone.
By that week end they had a photo and said they would see to the changes/
Three years later after a reported fall out in the ranks of the Friend of Wombwell cemetery, the changes had still not been made.
I visited a company in Barugh Green called Signsextra who said they could copy the photo onto a plastic material and stick it on to a piece of Perspex, they would charge about £35.00 for the job.
I took this information back to the branch members and they agreed that we would finance the project from branch funds. The order was placed and within three weeks the new image was on the stone.