Remembering those who gave their lives in the First World War
The building houses Preston's Roll of Honour which lists 1,956 men from Preston who lost their lives during the First World War. It was added to the building in 1927, replacing a temporary Roll of Honour which had existed in the central rotunda since 1917. The Roll of Honour is located on the ground floor, in two sections, on both staircases facing the entrance door. The names are inscribed on marble tablets and begin with the men of the Royal Navy listed in alphabetical order, followed by the regiments in alphabetical order.
The Roll of Honour was produced to accompany the monument on the Market Square, now known as Preston Cenotaph, which was built in gratitude to all the men of Preston who died during the First World War, and was completed in 1926. Both the monument and the Roll of Honour were designed by the architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and paid for by voluntary public donations.
The Roll of Honour is not a complete list or record of local men who enlisted in Preston and lost their lives during the Great War. It only includes men who lived in the town prior to their death, based on the boundaries of Preston at the time of the war. The parish and district councils outside Preston also produced public memorials to fallen servicemen. No charge was made to inscribe names on the Roll of Honour and the submission of names was a decision left to the immediate families of the deceased at that time. The council produced forms to collect the details of the Preston men who had died. Only names submitted between 1916 and 1927 are included on Roll of Honour. Despite all efforts of the council and the assistance of the regiments and local churches some families chose instead to remember their loved ones privately on other memorials such as those in churches or on family gravestones in Preston Cemetery. It has been estimated that the families of more than 400 Preston men who died during the First World War did not submit names to the municipal Roll of Honour. This decision was respected by the council at the time and the design and production of the panels was completed on this basis in 1927. The Roll of Honour is now part of the historic fabric of the Grade I listed Harris Museum and Art Gallery and no further names can be added to the memorial retrospectively.
Bound copies of the original submission forms can be found in the Harris Reference Library under the shelf number G192 PRE. These give, in most cases, additional information about those named on the memorial including previous address and occupation. As part of the Preston Remembers centenary project we are looking to make these forms available through the Lives of the First World War website by 2015.
No memorial or Roll of Honour was produced World War II. Instead the war memorial on the Market Square was also dedicated to all those from Preston who died and is the focus for Remembrance Day services.
The names of all 1.7 million servicemen and women of the Commonwealth forces who died during both the First and Second World Wars are commemorated on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. Further details of war memorials are held by the United Kingdom National Inventory of War Memorials at the Imperial War Museum. Information on how to research military history can be found at The National Archives website including access to the medal roll records.