This site celebrates the life and work of sculptor
Cassidy (1860 - 1939).
The church of St Peter in Chorley Road, Swinton,
Manchester 'a fine building
of stone with a lofty western tower', was built to designs by Sir
Gilbert Scott in 1869.
The lych-gate, between the churchyard and the
street, was added as a War Memorial after World War I, and features
carvings by John Cassidy. It was unveiled in 1922, and is now a Grade
II listed structure.
The structure also has a glass-fronted casket of soil from the
Western Front built into the wall, as well as the names of war dead
carved inside the arch. Unusually for a war memorial, it has not had
names from later wars added. Unfortuntately, some of the names have
become hard to read, partly due to repairs done using a different kind
of stone from the original.
In 2008 it was reported that the local Council was planning to re-carve
the names on this memorial and had asked local residents to contact
them with names of relatives known to have died in the First World War.
Lis Nicolson writes: 'My
Uncle Jack (John
Ruskin Tyldesley) was born in 1916, and remembers it being built when
he was at St Peter's Church of England Primary School. The names of
Swinton's war dead are inside the arch.'
For a list of the 250 names on the memorial, see the Salford War
The inscriptions read:
DEDICATED TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN MEMORY OF THE MEN OF SWINTON WHO
LAID DOWN THEIR LIVES IN THE GREAT WAR 1914-1919.
FOR LOVES SAKE REMEMBER THEIR LIVES FOR....
GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN THAN THIS, THAT HE LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS
ETERNAL REST GRANT THEE O LORD.
MAKE THEM TO BE NUMBERED WITH THY SAINTS.
LET LIGHT PERPETUAL SHINE UPON THEM.
Listed building Grade II
From the Register of listed buildings:
Lychgate. Erected as a war memorial. c.1920. Ashlar with
slate roof. Gothic Revival. Moulded pointed-arched entrances, angled
corner buttresses with statue in cusped niches. 5-light window to each
side with cusped heads.
Gables to front and rear bearing a crucifix and statue with cusped
canopy respectively, and Old and New Testament texts. Rolls of honour
carved on internal masonry.
Swinton - St Peter's Church lych-gate (1920)
The lower picture shows three close-ups of the Cassidy
statues on the
structure. All pictures contributed by Wendy Stock of the Pilkington's Pottery
Cassidy's figures include a curious secret. In the words of a Salford
Local History pamphlet written by Derek Antrobus:
If you look carefully at the relief of St Peter which
adorns the Lych Gate of Swinton Parish Church, you will notice
something rather odd. The figure is clasping the keys to heaven and
holding the book of judgement, and is swathed in gowns. The image
is the traditional one of St Peter – until you look at his head. There
you see the archetypal Victorian gentleman, complete with mutton chop
It is, in fact, an icon made in tribute to Noah
Robinson (1826-1907) who can claim to be the founding father of modern
Swinton. And it is a fitting tribute because he was a key figure in
history of St Peter’s Church. He is also commemorated in a stained
glass window within the parish church, which features a rare depiction
of a black woman, marking his support for the abolitionists in
the American Civil War. Robinson was also a driving force behind the
provision of education, highways and sanitation as Swinton developed
from a rural backwater to a busy township.
Updated by Charlie Hulme June 2016