Updating Family Memorials

Lifting, Storing, Updating and Re-affixing a Family Gravestone Following a Recent Death

While a death in the family is always a sad and distressing time, some things can bring a small measure of comfort. Some families decide to purchase a family plot in a burial ground of their choice, ensuring that family members can be buried together. There is a great deal of solace and reassurance to be gained from knowing that family members share a last resting place, and that couples, mothers, fathers, children and other close relatives are reunited. Having a place to visit those who are gone but not forgotten, where we can pay our respects or even just have a chat, can give us a sense of well-being.

But what happens when the day comes that you need to add a recently-departed relative to a family grave?

How memorials are sometimes left...

How memorials are sometimes left…

...Damage can result from weathering and other adverse conditions

…Damage can result from weathering and other adverse conditions

Firstly, the memorial stone must, of course, be removed for the funeral. A new inscription must be added. And there is then a period, usually of around six months, before the ground settles and the memorial stone can be returned to its rightful position.

During this time, simply allowing the stone to lie on the ground in the vicinity makes it much more vulnerable to weathering – the lettering can be damaged, for example. It’s also more likely to suffer accidental damage, or even more unfortunately, become a target for mindless vandals.

Why not give yourself and your family peace of mind?

At Sarsfield Memorials Liverpool, our expert memorial masons will uplift your family’s gravestone safely and professionally. We will then store it for you in the optimum conditions until it’s ready to be reinstated on the gravesite. We’ll do this free of charge.

We can also update the memorial stone by engraving any additional inscription, which we charge for by the letter. We will additionally clean the stone and re-gild or re-lead the existing lettering, again charged for by the letter, if it has become necessary.

Finally, once the ground has settled, we’ll re-affix it securely and in line with the relevant local guidelines.

We offer this service throughout the North West and are happy to offer a free quotation before uplifting and updating family memorials, so that you know in advance what the cost will be. To find out more about our services for updating and storage of existing family memorials, email us at sarsfield@hotmail.co.uk or call us on 0151 228 5616 and we’d be happy to talk you through the process.


Memorial to the Pals Battalions

A new memorial to the brave Liverpool men who formed the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th Pals Battalions of the King’s (Liverpool) Regiment

Before World War I, the British Army had relied on professional soldiers to fight for king and country. But from the outset, Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War, believed that the way to victory lay in superior manpower. He began a massive recruitment campaign and one of the most successful contributions came from Liverpool. At Edward Stanley, the Earl of Derby’s suggestion, men were encouraged to volunteer alongside their friends and work colleagues, their ‘pals’.

Liverpool Pals on St George's Plateau

Liverpool Pals on St George’s Plateau

Liverpool set the example for the rest of the country. Within a few days of Lord Derby’s proposal, thousands of men had enlisted at St George’s Hall alongside friends, colleagues and workmates. The overwhelming response saw the creation of four new battalions: the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th.

The newly formed Pals Battalions swelled the ranks of the King’s Regiment (Liverpool), which itself had a proud history as one of the British Army’s oldest infantry regiments, founded in 1685. In recognition of Lord Derby’s role, the Pals volunteers wore an Eagle and Child cap badge, his family crest, rather than the King’s Regiment’s usual White Horse of Hanover.

Training was tough – equipment was scarce, and much time was spent digging on Lord Derby’s estate in preparation for the trench warfare was to come. In early November 1915, all four Liverpool Pals Battalions were sent to France. They acquitted themselves well, for example playing a significant role in the Battle of the Somme in 1916. But it came at a price. Over 200 Liverpudlians were killed on the first day in the capture of Montauban – one of the very few victories on a day which saw the British Army lose 19,240 soldiers in total. Five hundred more Liverpool Pals died in a subsequent failed attack in the village of Guillemont.

In all, the Liverpool Pals Battalions suffered more than 2,800 casualties during the course of the Great War. However, wherever these men fought, they maintained their reputation for bravery, toughness and camaraderie in the face of the enemy.

The tragedy of Pals Battalions was that, although men served with friends and colleagues, they also died alongside them, leaving home towns and cities decimated and devastated. By January 1916, conscription had been introduced instead; and many Pals Battalions, struck by such heavy losses, were amalgamated into other regiments.

But Liverpool’s brave men were among the last to be stood down at the end of the war, just as they had been among the first to step forward and fight for peace.

To commemorate the day when thousands of Liverpool workers volunteered to fight for the freedom of their fellow men, a 30ft bronze memorial frieze created by Tom Murphy will be unveiled at Lime Street Station on 31 August 2014. The memorial to the Pals Battalions has been commissioned by the Liverpool Pals Memorial Fund. We look forward to seeing this special monument to commemorate some of Liverpool’s bravest and finest sons.

Louise McTigue is a freelance writer and researcher, writing on behalf of Sarsfield Memorials.

Remembering the Great War (1914 – 1918)

The Sinking of RMS Lusitania, a Disaster for Liverpool

As we arrive at the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War (1914-1918), our blogs for the next few weeks focuses on some of the defining moments for Liverpool during those terrible years.

RMS Lusitania arriving in New York on her maiden voyage

RMS Lusitania arriving in New York on her maiden voyage

With Liverpool’s status as a leading UK port, it’s inevitable that many of her tragedies during war as well as peace-time involve the sea. One such event was the sinking of the steamship RMS Lusitania, a British ocean liner owned and operated by Cunard. At the time of her launch in 1906, Lusitania took the prize as the fastest and most luxurious ship in the world; and she sailed regularly between Liverpool and New York, until the fateful day of 7 May 1915, when she was torpedoed by German submarine U-20 off the coast of Ireland.

Struck in the hull, this magnificent, proud ship sank within just 18 minutes with a massive loss of life. Of the 1,198 people known to have died that day, 785 were civilian passengers and 413 were crew. Poignantly for Liverpool, many of the crew came from close-knit Irish communities living in the north of the city. In fact, recent research has shown that altogether, around 600 people aboard had links with Liverpool, the Wirral and the wider region that is now Merseyside.

Significantly in terms of the course of WWI, 128 of the deceased passengers were US citizens, which had a dramatic effect on America’s view of Germany. Although not a direct result of the Lusitania’s sinking, it was a contributory factor to the United States joining the Allies against Germany in 1917 – which in turn was a decisive moment in the eventual Allied victory over the Central Powers of Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Many victims of the disaster were buried in mass graves in the Old Church Cemetery, Queenstown, Ireland, not far from the site of the wreck.  

Among the memorials in Liverpool to those who lost their lives in this impressive ship’s sinking, an annual memorial service takes place each year in front of a salvaged propeller from this tragic ship, held by the Merseyside Maritime Museum on the dockside between the Museum itself and the Museum of Liverpool. Next year, of course, will see the 100th anniversary of the catastrophe. There is also a memorial constructed in glass in St James’ Church, Mill Lane, West Derby in Liverpool.

Louise McTigue is a freelance researcher and writer, writing on behalf of Sarsfield Memorials Liverpool.

Memorials to Mary Lawson and Francis Beaumont

A Tale of Romance and Tragedy: A Popular Actress and her RAF husband

Mary Lawson, from a 1930s publicity postcard

Mary Lawson, from a 1930s publicity postcard

Mary Lawson was a highly popular and sought-after stage and screen actress in the 1920s and 30s. From working class roots from County Durham, she made her first appearance singing for wounded soldiers during WWI at the age of five. She honed her acting and dancing abilities during her teenage years in Durham and beyond, eventually being talent spotted by Gracie Fields. Her career then went from strength to strength and she appeared in films with names such as Vivien Leigh and Bud Flanagan.

But she was to be remembered almost as much for her romantic affairs as for her acting ability. A series of high profile engagements ensued, including a spell as the fiancée of Fred Perry, at that time the world’s leading tennis player. Intense media attention and his desire to live in America made her call off the engagement.

She met her future husband, Francis William Lionel Collings Beaumont, on the set of the film Toilers of the Sea, set on the island of Sark. Francis, heir to the Seigneur of Sark, was already married with a son, but fell in love with Mary and divorce followed. Mary and Francis married in 1938 in London. It appears the marriage frowned upon by his mother, who spoke fondly of his first wife but failed to mention Mary at all in her memoirs.

After the outbreak of WWII, Sark was occupied by the Germans. Frances joined the Royal Air Force, rising to the rank of Flight Lieutenant. Having been granted a week’s leave in 1941, he and Mary were reunited and travelled with friends and family to spend a week in Liverpool, apparently staying in Toxteth. Unfortunately, their stay coincided with some of the heaviest bombing Liverpool suffered by the Luftwaffe in May of that year. On 3rd May, the air raid sirens went off, prompting Mary’s sister and others from their party to take shelter. Mary and Francis remained in their room, perhaps seeking a few moments alone together before he returned to active service. The house they were staying in was hit and both were killed. Their friends and family, who had sought the safety of the air raid shelter, all survived.

Francis Beaumont War Grave, Kirkdale Cemetery

Francis Beaumont War Grave, Kirkdale Cemetery, Liverpool

Mary and Francis were buried in Kirkdale Cemetery, Liverpool, but only Francis has a headstone to remember him. Mary’s memorial is in the Civilian War Dead Roll of Honour, located near St. George’s Chapel in Westminster Abbey, London and in the films that survive her.






Louise McTigue is a freelance writer and researcher, writing on behalf of Sarsfield Memorials.

Liverpool memorials: Alfred G Rowe

Memorial to a well-travelled man who lost his life in the Titanic disaster

Albert G Rowe - Family Memorial - Inscription

Albert G Rowe – Family Memorial – Inscription

Alfred G Rowe was born in Peru, one of John James and Agnes Rowe’s seven children. His father was a successful merchant involved in trading and shipping between Liverpool and Chile. Alfred was brought up in England, but had certainly inherited his family’s wanderlust. After two years in the family business and education at the Royal Agricultural College in Gloucestershire, he moved to Donley County, Texas and with the princely sum of £500, started a ranch with two of his brothers, Vincent and Bernard.

As a rancher, Alfred flourished and got on well with the cowboys he employed, who thought him an honest man of high business principles. He also contributed greatly to the Texas community he lived in and even chose to become a US citizen while living there. In 1901, he married Constance Ethel Kingsley (a cousin of the priest and novelist Charles Kingsley who wrote The Water Babies) and by 1910, the family had moved back to England. However, Alfred returned to Texas to visit his ranch a couple of times a year.

For his last trip, he booked passage in first class accommodation on the brand new passenger liner, the Titanic, embarking at Southampton on Wednesday, 10 April. But he wasn’t impressed with the mighty ship – four days into the journey, he wrote to his wife, saying the ship was “too big” and “a positive danger” after a near-miss with the SS New York. The letter was posted in Queenstown, Ireland, the last port of call before it set off for New York, and only reached his poor wife after news of his death.

Albert G Rowe Family Memorial, Smithdown Road Cemetery

Albert G Rowe Family Memorial, Smithdown Road Cemetery

Accounts report that when the Titanic began to sink, Alfred refused a place in a life raft, declaring himself a strong swimmer. He made it as far as a floating hunk of ice, but died of hypothermia before his body could be recovered by the cable ship, the Mackay-Bennett. He was buried at Smithdown Road Cemetery on Tuesday 14 May, 1912 and an impressive family memorial marks the spot. His heartbroken wife gave birth to their fourth surviving child five months later and named him after his father. She eventually sold the Texas ranch to one of his hired cowboys, whose heirs still own parcels of the original land today.



Louise McTigue is a freelance writer and researcher, writing on behalf of Sarsfield Memorials.

Sir William Watson, Liverpool Poet

2 August 1858 – 13 August 1935

Sir William Watson

Sir William Watson

William Watson was the youngest of three sons of a master grocer. Born in Burley, Yorkshire, he moved to Liverpool with his family at an early age and grew up there. His early interest was in Romantic poetry but his first volume met with little critical acclaim. He came to national attention with the publication in 1891 of his work Wordsworth’s Grave, a tribute to William Wordsworth’s memory.

For this and his other work, he was tipped to be named Poet Laureate, but suffered a breakdown in 1892 and the role was given to another poet, whom Watson and many others felt was far inferior. Though he regained his reputation over the next few years, his poetry became progressively more political in nature, criticising government foreign policy with intensely anti-Boer War poems, for example. As a result, he was again passed over for the role of Poet Laureate, this time for being seen to be ‘politically unsuitable’.

Nevertheless, he continued to compose poems prolifically and in 1917, he was awarded a knighthood, in part for his poem in praise of David Lloyd George and partly for his support of the Great War effort. However, once the war ended, he was largely overlooked in favour of new, younger, more modern writers.

Sir William Watson Memorial

Sir William Watson Headstone, photography by Mick Ryan

Sir William grew increasingly pessimistic and despondent about his lack of popularity. When he died in a nursing home in Sussex in 1935, his famed had dipped to a point where many were surprised to find that he had still been alive. His wife, 27 years younger than him, was subsequently forced to enter domestic service to make ends meet. He was buried in the family tomb in Childwall Churchyard.

Louise McTigue is a freelance writer and researcher, writing on behalf of Sarsfield Memorials.

Sir Henry Wade Deacon

1852 – 1932, Widnes Scientist, Industrialist and Public Figure

Sir Henry Wade Deacon, Widnes scientist, industrialist and public figure

Sir Henry Wade Deacon, Widnes scientist, industrialist and public figure

Sir Henry Wade Deacon was a son of Henry Deacon, a major industrialist and one of the first entrepreneurs to establish chemical works in Widnes. Henry Deacon counted Michael Faraday, one of the most influential scientists in history, as one of his family friends and he himself filed a large number of patents for discoveries in alkali manufacture and presented a number of papers to distinguished learned societies. He also played a significant part in public life in Widnes.

One of Henry Deacon’s seven sons and four daughters, Sir Henry followed in his father’s footsteps. He had a strong interest in science and education and was a prominent figure in Widnes and the wider area, acting as a Justice of the Peace and Pro-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool from 1930 to 1932. He also served on what’s now Lancashire County Council and in July 1912, was presented with the Freedom of the Borough of Widnes for his extensive work in the educational field.

Sir Henry Wade Deacon - Memorial

Sir Henry Wade Deacon – Memorial

In 1931, the local grammar school opened its main building opposite Victoria Park in Widnes and named it Wade Deacon Grammar School in recognition of his work for many years as chairman of the Local Education Committee. Now Wade Deacon High School, it traces its history back to 1507, when the original grammar school was founded by Bishop William Smyth. In the 21st century, the school’s focus on science and technology continues Widnes’ long tradition as a major chemical town.

Louise McTigue is a freelance writer and researcher, writing on behalf of Sarsfield Memorials.

George Herbert Tyson Smith (1883 – 1972)

English Sculptor born in Liverpool

Herbert Tyson Smith's memorial, Allerton Cemetery, Liverpool

Herbert Tyson Smith’s memorial, Allerton Cemetery, Liverpool

The legacy of George Herbert Tyson Smith can be seen throughout the Liverpool and Merseyside area. Born in Liverpool in 1883, he was first apprenticed to a stonemason, then studied at Liverpool University and the Liverpool College of Art. He established his own practice in 1912, but was interrupted by serving in the Royal Flying Corps during WWI. Post-war, he set up his first studio, later moving to a larger one behind the Bluecoat Chambers in 1925, where he lovingly carried out some restoration work after bomb damage in 1941.

He was much sought after during his lifetime for his work on war memorials, on Merseyside and beyond. Perhaps the most striking of these is Liverpool Cenotaph, located on The Plateau directly before the entrance of St George’s Hall. First proposed by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool in 1920, the high rates of unemployment after the war delayed fund-raising efforts and a temporary wooden cenotaph was wheeled into position annually until 1930, when the one we see today was unveiled.

Liverpool Cenotaph, St George's Plateau, Liverpool

Liverpool Cenotaph, St George’s Plateau, Liverpool

The Cenotaph, designed by architect Lionel Budden and featuring panels by Smith, is unusual both for its horizontal design and the powerful and modern, realistic portrayals of soldiers and mourners. On one panel, row after row of uniformed men march onwards, as if to war. On the other, a group of mourners in 1920s clothing pay their respects against a backdrop of war graves stretching into infinity. If you get close, you’ll see the exquisite detail – every button, shoelace and fingernail is beautifully portrayed.

Tyson Smith’s work also included the Liverpool Post Office War Memorial, now located in the Met Quarter, and carving lettering and sculptures on many significant Liverpool buildings such as the dolphins, starfish, seahorses, mermen and other nautical details on the outside of Spinney House in Church Street, originally built for Littlewoods stores. His bronze panels for the former Martins Bank on Water Street can be seen in Merseyside Maritime Museum.

Herbert Tyson Smith died in 1972 and is buried in Allerton Cemetery.


Louise McTigue is a freelance writer and researcher, writing on behalf of Sarsfield Memorials.

William Mackenzie’s Pyramid Tomb, Rodney Street, Liverpool

If you’ve ever passed the former Church of St Andrew (now student accommodation) in Rodney Street, Liverpool, you may have seen the unusual pyramid-shaped memorial in the grounds. It’s commonly thought that monuments of this shape were chosen by people to prevent the devil from lounging on the deceased’s grave. But according to legend, William Mackenzie took this precaution one step further by being interred above ground inside the pyramid in a seated position, with a winning deck of cards in his hand. A keen gambler who allegedly sold his soul to the devil, this civil engineer was apparently keen to avoid having to repay his debt…

William Mackenzie was born in Nelson, Lancashire in 1794 and began his working life as an apprentice weaver, but soon turned his attention to civil engineering. He became one of the leading civil engineering contractors of his era, working on projects such as railway tunnels between Edge Hill and Liverpool and further afield, railway projects in France, Spain, Belgium and Italy. He died at 74 Grove Street, Liverpool in 1851.

William Mackenzie - Pyramid Memorial, Rodney Street, Liverpool

William Mackenzie – Pyramid Memorial, Rodney Street, Liverpool

William’s striking and unusual 15 foot pyramid tomb was erected in his memory in 1868 by his youngest brother Edward, who inherited much of William’s £340,000 estate. It was Grade II listed by English Heritage in 1985. The plaque on the pyramid’s door reads:

“In the vault beneath lie the remains of William Mackenzie of Newbie, Dumfriesshire, Esquire who died 29th October 1851 aged 57 years. Also, Mary his wife, who died 19th December 1838 aged 48 years and Sarah, his second wife who died 9th December 1867 aged 60 years. This monument was erected by his Brother Edward as a token of love and affection A.D. 1868. The memory of the just is blessed”.


Given the 17-year gap between William’s death and the monument’s erection, it seems unlikely that he is still sat at his card table within, but then, the legend has never been disproved either…

Louise McTigue is a freelance writer and researcher, writing on behalf of Sarsfield Memorials.

Memorial to John W Sutcliffe and Michael Prendergast

Shot dead during Liverpool’s general transport strike, 1911

In 1911, Britain was in economic decline. Workers’ wages had dropped, the cost of living rose steeply and living conditions were poor. Sailors and firemen in Southampton began the strike, and action quickly spread across the country in solidarity. But Liverpool saw the most organised and persistent action, led by syndicalist Tom Mann who headed up a dedicated strike committee.

Liverpool’s general transport strike of 1911 saw over 70,000 men join the action and by the summer, the city had come to a virtual standstill.

Home Secretary Winston Churchill ordered troops out onto the streets and the authorities shipped in an extra 2,400 police and 5,000 troops from other areas to contain the action. Events came to a head on 13th August at a rally at St George’s Plateau. After Tom Mann’s speech, police attacked crowds apparently without reason. In total, 186 people were hospitalised and 96 arrested.

Two days later, prison vans containing 90 men convicted for involvement in the riots were being escorted by the 18th Royal Hussars towards Walton Jail via Vauxhall Road, a controversial route as many striking dockworkers lived in the area. Unrest broke out and soldiers opened fire on the crowd. Thirteen were injured and two men killed.

  • John Sutcliffe, a 19-year-old carter, was shot twice in the head on the corner of Hopwood Street and Vauxhall Road, virtually on his own doorstep.
  • Michael Prendergast, 30, a docker, was shot twice in the chest at close range on the corner of Lamb Street.
1911 Transport Strike Memorial Plaque

1911 Transport Strike Memorial Plaque

Later inquests gave verdicts of justifiable homicide. But by 24 August, the government had realised it simply couldn’t contain the troubles across the country, and concessions were made to the workers.

This was one of the last occasions in history when British soldiers have killed civilians on the streets of mainland Britain.  It’s widely believed to be the nearest this country has ever come to revolution. But it also transformed trade unionism on Merseyside.

Louise McTigue is a freelance writer and researcher, writing on behalf of Sarsfield Memorials.