In 2013-4, a group of villagers researched a book about the lives of people recorded on the Willaston war memorial. This page covers some of the information they uncovered. Thanks to Joan and Keith Butcher and Hilary Morris for leading this project, which was funded by the BIG Lottery. As a result of their involvement, Hilary Morris and Alex Parry, a student from Neston High School, attended the WW1 National Service of Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey in 2018. To read Alex’s reflections on this, click on the link below.
Willaston in 1914
Willaston village was much smaller in 1914. The census of 1911 recorded a population of 806, compared to 2810 in 2011. More than half the buildings were recorded as farm buildings. There was no housing at Meadow Lane, Delamore’s Acre, the Old Vicarage estate, Elm Road, Wallcroft, The Knowe and Laurel Drive.
The railway line ran from Hooton to Hadlow Road and on to Neston, Parkgate and West Kirby. Six trains a day used the line when the first section ran to Parkgate in 1866. The Station Master lived in the house which was part of the station. There were six men working at the railway station and the single track railway brought goods to the village which were delivered by porters to people’s homes or businesses. Coal was distributed from the coal yard which is now the car park to the Wirral Way.
The Mill, powered by sails, was working in 1914. As well as grinding cattle food, it produced wheat flour.
The School was a sandstone building which stood on what is now the Village Green and the schoolmaster was provided with a house down Smithy Lane. The school leaving age was 12 years. At harvest time the school closed so that the children were free to help on the farms.
The Institute, with a reading room was part of what is now the Memorial Hall. The Red Lion was a public house as was the Nag’s Head.
On the site of the small green was a general store, approached by stairs from the road. There was no chemist shop and the doctor came from Neston.
Men of Willaston who lost their lives
It is believed that 148 men from Willaston served in the war. 34 people are listed on the village War Memorial as having lost their lives and a further two died shortly after the war as a result of their service. Some had strong links to the village, others weaker and they came from a wide range of backgrounds. Officers attended public schools such as Eton College and Oundle School, while many of the privates attended the village school. To find out more about each individual, click on their name below.
The two soldiers who are not recorded on the War Memorial are:
WW1 Walk around Willaston
To download a walk around Willaston, showing what the village was like in 1918 and featuring the lives of some of the soldiers, click below