Memorial will honour rugby club's fallen players from First World War

November 06 2019
Memorial will honour rugby club's fallen players from First World War

A WAR memorial is to be unveiled at the home of the Dings Crusaders RFC in tribute to the men who helped found the club and were then killed in the First World War.

The memorial will honour 62 members of the Shaftesbury Crusade, a Christian mission based at the Dings in St Philips which encouraged young people to take part in sport, eventually leading to the establishment of the rugby club.

It has been commissioned by the club, now based at Frenchay, and will be unveiled at 1.45pm on Saturday November 16, prior to the Dings Crusaders vs Taunton match.

Historian Ian Haddrell discovered there was an original memorial to honour the men when researching his book The History of Dings Crusaders Rugby Club, published in 2017.

He said: “During the course of my research I discovered that there was a memorial tablet to the 62 men of the Shaftesbury Crusade who lost their lives during the First World War, which was originally located in the main entrance of the Shaftesbury Crusade building, on the corner of Kingsland Road and Oxford Street, St Philip's. 

The Great War hit the Shaftesbury Crusade very hard, as 346 of its members joined up and the 62 men killed represented a casualty rate of some 18 per cent; a high proportion for a local organisation with a relatively small membership.”

In 1921 the Shaftesbury Crusade decided to place a tablet on the wall of their building, below, as a memorial to the members who fell in the Great War, and also to put a drinking fountain in a new playground which was being built nearby.


Ian, who has published eight books on local history and sport, said: “It was felt that a fountain would be not only an ornamental memorial but also a useful one, and would be especially appreciated by the number of boys and girls who would use the playground, many of them children and relatives of the men who lives were given for their country. Unfortunately the installation of the fountain never happened as insufficient funds were raised.”

In 1965 the Crusaders moved to new premises in Salisbury Street, Barton Hill, taking the First World War memorial tablet with them.

Ian said: “A report made on the memorial in August 1994 stated that the building in Salisbury Street had been sold by the Shaftesbury with the memorial in situ. It further stated that the brass memorial was known to have been in poor condition from 1984. The list of 62 names on the memorial tablet was recorded and sent at the same time to the Imperial War Memorial’s register and to the Bristol Archives. 

Sometime after that date the memorial disappeared and has not been seen since.”

In 2018 Dings Crusaders RFC moved from their Lockleaze home of 70 years to a new purpose-built sport facility at Frenchay, named Shaftesbury Park in recognition of the club’s origins. 

The rugby club have commissioned the new memorial which will be mounted in a prominent position at the ground as permanent memorial to those Shaftesbury Crusaders who gave their lives between 1914 and 1918.

It will be unveiled by the granddaughters of H. W. Rudge, who founded the rugby club in 1897. 

A memorial service will be led by former Dings player, the Rev Trevor Denley. A number of ex-service organisations and the Royal British Legion will pay their respects. It is hoped that relatives of those named on the memorial will also attend.


Main picture: Albert Alfred Wollen is one of those listed on the memorial