Lost memorial to 12 fallen soldiers to be revived in Goathland

The village of Goathland.
The village of Goathland.

Twelve English oak trees are to be planted in Goathland to help tell the story of the 12 men of the village who lost their lives in the First World War.

The trees will be planted by the children of Goathland Primary School, helping to connect a new generation to their local WWI heritage and establish a new living memorial that can be visited by members of the public.

The project, which will see a Centenary Walk established past the site of the trees, has been made possible thanks the work of the Goathland Community Hub and Sports Pavilion CIO, which has been awarded a grant of £9,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The project is also supported by the North York Moors National Park Trust, a new charity that aims to protect and improve the Moors while keeping its heritage and tradition alive.

Keith Thompson, Chairman of the Goathland Community Hub and Sports Pavilion said: “In 1922 a lady called Kate Smailes, who had lost her own son in WWI, planted 12 English oak trees to commemorate the 12 men of Goathland village who had made the ultimate sacrifice.

“Kate carefully chose a location for her trees along the old railway line, where she could see them every day on her favourite walk. Now, 100 years later, we plan to retell this poignant tale by planting 12 oak saplings and establishing a two-mile circular walk that will take in both the remaining historic oaks and the 12 new trees.”

A commemorative plaque and information board will share the stories of the 12 men and convey the impact that their deaths had on the local community.

Visitors to Goathland can also view a memorial to them in St. Mary’s Church as well as on the War Memorial in the village centre.

Andy Wilson, Chair of the North York Moors National Park Trust said: “Goathland’s rail heritage, spectacular waterfalls, and connections to popular culture make it a favourite destination for visitors to the Moors.

“However, its wartime history and the story of the commemorative oaks in particular are completely unknown outside of a handful of people in the local community.

“The Trust is delighted to be supporting the creation of this living memorial. One of our constant aims is to help forge powerful connections between people and landscapes and across generations, and this project will achieve that in spades.”

Each tree there will feature a short pen portrait based on each man, suitably inscribed and mounted with a short leaflet being produced to augment the story boards.

Signage will also be improved along the walk.