Arthur Francis Sculpture created Corten steel solider sculptures of 12 fallen servicemen of Goathland. This was part of a project to remember the soldiers of World War I during the 100 year anniversary. But the story behind the creation of these solider sculptures goes deeper than just that.
The 12 Fallen Heroes of Goathland
In 1922, after the end of World War I, Kate Smailes planted 12 Old English oak trees to honour the fallen young men of her village, Goathland. Goathland is near Scarborough, on the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, part of the North Riding of Yorkshire. The 12 men of Goathland served in some of the most notorious theatres of war between 1914 and 1918, including the Somme, Gallipoli and the English Channel. One of the men had been Kate Smailes’ son. It is believed that Kate carefully chose a location for her trees along the old railway line, where she could see them every day on her favourite walk.
As time passed, and Kate herself passed away, the family slowly left Goathand. Kate’s daughter moved away, married and had her own children. Kate Smailes’ cousin John Smailes, who stayed local to Goathland until his death had shared the story of the 12 English oak trees locally. It was a chance meeting between John and Keith Thompson, Chairman of the Community Hub & Sports Pavilion that led to the new walk being open after 3 years of research into the story. The two located the remaining original English oak trees and discussed the story which had been passed through the generations in the Smailes family. “Like almost every village in the country, Goathland lost a significant number of its local men in the First World War,” Keith explains. “Shortly after the war had ended, the mother of one of these young men, a lady called Kate Smailes, planted 12 English oak trees to commemorate the 12 men of Goathland village who had never returned. Now, 100 years later, we are retelling this poignant tale. This spring, we planted 12 oak saplings, and this new trail will take in both the remaining historic oaks and the 12 new trees.” They then decided to take to commemoration and revival of this story a step further, and commemorate the 12 fallen heros with 12 weathering Corten steel solider sculptures.
The Centenary Walk Now Features 12 Solider Sculptures
The two-mile circular Centenary Walk was founded as the result of an extraordinary community project. In the 100-year anniversary of the end of World War I, 12 new English oak trees were planted and named the Centenary Walk. In front of each of the saplings has been stationed a silhouette Corten steel sculpture of a soldier. The soldier sculptures have been cut to each represent a ‘Resting Tommy.’ Corten steel has been chosen as the material for the sculptures because as the steel weathers, it naturally changes colour and texture, the longer it stands in place.
This project, which saw a Centenary Walk established past the site of the trees, was made possible thanks to the work of the Goathland Community Hub and Sports Pavilion Charitable Incorporated Organisation. The organisers were awarded a grant of £9,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Centenary Walk is also supported by the North York Moors National Park Trust; a charity that aims to protect and improve the Moors while keeping its heritage and tradition alive. 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.”
Attending the opening ceremony, officiated by The Bishop of Whitby, The Right Reverend Paul Ferguson, were the descendants of Kate Smailes herself, including her Granddaughter, Sheila Benzie, along with relatives of several other of the 12 men who are remembered at Goathland’s war memorial. The opening celebration was the result of nearly three years work and research into the individual stories behind these 12 names.
Contact Arthur Francis Sculpture
Here at Arthur Francis Sculpture we were honoured to have been able to create sculptures that are able to tell such a poignant story at the Goathland Centenary Walk. It enables future generations to remember those heroes who gave their lives for our country.
If you are considering commissioning a project or would like to discuss a unique piece of sculpture, in the first instance, please contact us to discuss your requirements by calling Brent on 07972 263364 or by completing our contact us form.