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.


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 shipowner Sir Percy Elly Bates, 4th Baronet

12 May 1879 – 16 October 1946

Sir Percy Elly Bates - Portrait

Sir Percy Elly Bates – Portrait

Percy Bates was the second son of Edward Percy Bates and grandson of Sir Edward Bates, 1st Baronet and a Conservative Member of Parliament. He dedicated much of his life to ship-building and in his role as Chairman of the Cunard-White Star Lines in later life, his policies were credited with leading towards the construction of some of the most famous passenger ships in history, including the original Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I vessels.

Percy was born in Wavertree, Liverpool in 1879 and was first apprenticed to William Johnston & Co, a Liverpool shipbuilder; later joining the family firm Edward Bates & Sons after the death of his father in 1899. He became 4th Baronet after his elder brother, Edward Bertram Bates, died of enteric fever in India in 1903 and in 1910, he took up a role as a director of Cunard. When the First World War broke out, his experience suited him for service in the Transport Department of the Admiralty and he later rose to become Director of Commercial Services with responsibility for shipping civilian supplies in the newly-formed Ministry of Shipping. He was knighted for his services in 1920.

Percy served as High Sheriff and Justice of the Peace in Cheshire. But it wasn’t all work: he was also interested in literature and was an occasional member of The Inklings, the Oxford literary society which boasted JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis amongst its membership.

His only son, Edward Percy Bates, served as a pilot officer in the RAF in WWII and was killed on New Year’s Day 1945 while flying over Germany. His war grave is in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery in Germany.

Sir Percy Elly Bates' Grave, Childwall Churchyard, Liverpool

Sir Percy Elly Bates’ Grave, Childwall Churchyard, Liverpool

Sir Percy died a year later. After suffering a heart attack while in his office on 14 October 1946, he died at home on 16th October, the day he was supposed to have attended the launch and maiden voyage of his ship, The Queen Elizabeth. He is buried in Childwall Churchyard, Liverpool.


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.

War Memorials and Symbolism

If you take a look around your local cemetery, you’ll notice that some images seem to crop up time and time again. Over the coming months, we’ll be explaining some of the symbolism on memorials and monuments to the dead. Tying in with this and the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, we start with a bit of history behind the Hoylake and West Kirby War Memorial.

Before the outbreak of WWI, war memorials were usually erected to mark great victories in battle. It wasn’t nearly as common to commemorate those who were injured or lost their lives. But the sheer number who died in the ‘war to end all wars’ and the impact on communities up and down the country was so great that people felt moved to remember those who had laid down their lives for their country and for freedom.

Hoylake and West Kirby War Memorial

This memorial stands on top of Grange Hill in West Kirby with views to the surrounding areas, Liverpool Bay, Liverpool and Wales. It’s a Grade 2* listed monument and was unveiled by the Earl of Birkenhead on 16 December 1922.

Hoylake and West Kirby War Memorial - Defence

Hoylake and West Kirby War Memorial – Defence

The figures on the memorial were created by Charles Sergeant Jagger (1885-1934) who himself fought in Gallipoli and on the Western Front. He began work on the project while recovering from war wounds in 1917, which was the first of many war memorials he was to design. Having personally seen combat at close hand, he rejected the fashionable idealistic and modernist styles of sculpture at the time and instead portrayed his soldiers as realistic and rugged. The male figure on this memorial is called ‘Soldier on Defence’ and shows a British infantry soldier dressed for winter. He’s standing guard with his standard issue .303 rifle horizontal, with bayonet fixed. A German soldier’s helmet lies at his feet.

Hoylake and West Kirby War Memorial - Humanity

Hoylake and West Kirby War Memorial – Humanity

On the opposite side is a woman dressed in robes called ‘Humanity’. She holds a wreath of twigs and poppies – the wreath has been a symbol used at funerals since Ancient Greek times to represent the circle of eternal life. Poppies became the symbol of remembrance because they were one of the few plants to grow on the barren battlefields of Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. ‘Humanity’ rests her head on a pillow of lilies, which often symbolise purity and immortality.

Together, the statues represent redemption, sacrifice and heroism.


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

Sir James Allanson Picton

Sir James Allanson Picton Portrait

Sir James Allanson Picton

Sir James Allanson Picton’s legacy lives on in the recently-restored Picton Reading Room, part of Liverpool Central Library in William Brown Street, Liverpool. Opened in 1879, this was the first public building in Liverpool to feature electric lighting; and is now a Grade II* listed building. It was named after him in recognition of his services as the first chairman of the Liverpool Libraries Committee, a position he held from 1851 until his death.

Born at Highfield Street on 2 December 1805, Sir James began his working life in his father’s joinery and timber merchant business at the age of 13, but later pursued his ambition to become an architect. He trained with Daniel Stewart, architect and surveyor, eventually taking over his business until he retired in 1866.

Throughout his life, he played an important role in Liverpool’s heritage, including campaigning for a penny levy to provide a free library and museum for the city’s inhabitants. It was in no small part due to his efforts that an Act of Parliament was passed in 1852 and the library became a reality. He also designed several important buildings in Liverpool City Centre, some of which still survive today, such as the impressive Fowler’s Buildings located at 3-9 Victoria Street and 1-3 Temple Lane. Many locals may also be familiar with the Picton Clock Tower in Wavertree, which he erected as a memorial to his wife in 1884. Its inscription reads “Time wasted is existence; used is life.”

Sir James Allanson Picton Memorial, Toxteth Park Cemetery

Sir James Allanson Picton Memorial, Toxteth Park Cemetery

He was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1881 in recognition of his public service. He died on 15 July 1889 at Sandy Knowe, the house he designed for himself and his family in Wavertree, which was by that time a desirable place for the wealthy to build their villas away from the polluted atmosphere of the city centre. The building has now been converted to sheltered flats.

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