Rockley Memorial Park was donated to Radcliffe on Trent by Mr Lisle Rockley in memory of his son William and local men killed in the First World War. On 15th October 2017 the village commemorated the centenary of William Rockley’s death at Passchendaele and celebrated ninety years since Rockley Memorial Park was opened.
Click here to read about William Rockley
Click here for a description of the park today
Radcliffe Parish Council organised a short ceremony at the park which was based on the original event held on 15th October 1927. Many Radcliffe residents attended, just as they had done ninety years ago. The ceremony was led by David Barton, chairman of the parish council, who welcomed everyone present. The Mayor of Rushcliffe gave a short speech based on the original words spoken by dignitaries in 1927.
William Rockley was an officer in the 10th Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment. The regiment has since been incorporated into The Yorkshire Regiment and a representative, Major R.C. Helm, gave a short speech, telling the assembled crowd.
Commemorative ceremony at Rockley Memorial Park
Four descendants of Lisle Rockley were present: Fiona Linney, great-grandaughter, Charles Linney, Lisle Rockley’s great-great grandson and his two children. Charles Linney laid a wreath in the park pavilion on behalf of the family. His speech began:
‘Can I say a heart-felt thank you on behalf of our family, to everyone for making the effort to come and mark the one hundredth anniversary of the death of my great-great-uncle, Lieutenant William Lisle Rockley, as well as for all the other people from the local Radcliffe area who lost their life while fighting for their country.’
The crowd were moved by all the words spoken and the simple ceremony. It concluded with bugler Andy Norton from the Boys Brigade sounding ‘The Last Post’.
After the ceremony all present re-convened at Grange Hall for afternoon tea. Radcliffe WWI group, who had spent weeks doing the research behind and for the event, presented a poster exhibition detailing the history of the park from William Rockley’s death to the present day.
Radcliffe WWI Group and Major R.C. Helm
Artefacts belonging to William Rockley and now held by his descendants were on display. The items included his M.C., campaign medals and ceremonial sword, which Charles Linney’s father, Nick Linney, had had refurbished for the occasion. The wreath laid at the pavilion was brought down to the hall; the design was based on the original wreath presented by Mrs Margaret Rockley in 1927. Lisle Rockley’s portrait was on display; it now hangs in the Dowson Room of the Grange.
Following a welcome by Dave Barton, Rosie Collins gave a short talk about the background to the park which was based on research conducted by the WWI group. In conclusion, she said ‘I’d like to re-iterate how deeply grateful we are to Lisle Rockley for the wonderful gift of the park, cliff walk, woodlands, and access to the River Trent. The gift enhances our experience of living in Radcliffe by giving all of us an area of outstanding natural beauty to enjoy. It’s now up to us to preserve our heritage in the best way that we can.’
John Thorn, chairman of Radcliffe Parish Council Amenities committee, then described recent improvements and plans for the development of the park. After the talks, those present enjoyed a splendid tea provided by Radcliffe on Trent Women’s Institute.
There was ample opportunity for people to look at the exhibition, buy ‘The Story of Rockley Memorial Park, Cliffs and Woodlands’ written by the Radcliffe WWI group and sign up for a new group, the ‘Friends of Rockley Memorial Park’ who will undertake light gardening duties in the park in future.
Marion Caunt, Rosemary Collins and Pauline Woodhouse from Radcliffe WW1 Group placed William Rockley’s wreath on Radcliffe War Memorial at the end of the afternoon to signify the gift of the park was in honour of all Radcliffe men who lost their lives in the Great War.