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A majestic lion lays bestride a war memorial in a post-war housing estate, a memory of those who worked nearby and died far away.
The Crockett International Leather Cloth Company was based in West Ham and manufactured artificial leather and other textiles at its factory on Abbey Road from 1855 until it closed down in 1961.
Many of its staff signed up to fight in WW1, and following the armistice, as with many large firms of the time, a memorial was erected in their memory.
It stood within the factory grounds, near to the modern day Abbey Road DLR station, but was moved to its current location when the factory closed and the land cleared for housing.
The memorial comprises a rectangular Portland stone pylon carrying a carved lion couchant, looking out over the nearby streets. It used to have more stonework at the base, but this was lost when the memorial was moved to its current location.
Originally it commemorated the 15 members of staff who died in WW1, but as with many WW1 memorials, it needed editing a few years later, for the dead of WW2.
There are now 24 names of former leatherworkers on the memorial, plus Comte Robert de Lesseps, who seems to be a bit of mystery as to why he was named here, as he doesn’t seem to be connected to the leatherworking factory.
On the north-east face the later dedication reads IN MEMORY OF THOSE/ SERVICE AND CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES/ WHO LOST THEIR LIVES/ 1939 – 1945 (10 NAMES).
On the south-west face of the base, a badly eroded inscription reads THIS MEMORIAL WAS ERECTED BY/ THE DIRECTORS OF THE LEATHER CLOTH COMPANY LTD/ IN MEMORY OF THOSE WHO FELL FIGHTING 1914-1919.
Although the memorial looks forlorn and unloved it has been cleaned in recent years, as the lion used to be black with pollution, and on the handful of times I’ve walked past, there’s usually been a wreath laid beside the lion in memory of those who died.
This article first appeared on www.ianvisits.co.uk
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