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War Memorial #1040 ~ Matlock Bath EarthCache

Hidden : 03/12/2020
2 out of 5
1 out of 5

Size: Size:   other (other)

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Geocache Description:

The war memorial in Matlock Bath is situated at the northern end of the Promenade Gardens near the River Derwent and was unveiled by Mr. F. C. Arkwright and dedicated by Rev W Askwith on Sunday 1 May 1921 at a ceremony presided over by Mr J W Boden on a bright, sunny afternoon. 35 wreaths were laid around the memorial after the service.

The sculpture was carved by Fedele Andreani & Fratelli and the mason for the memorial was James Beresford & Sons of Belper (the latter are named on the face of the plinth): the whole memorial cost £710. This information was recorded in The High Peak News and later on a hand-written file note held by the District Council (the note itself being many years old). 

The monument lists the names of those who died in both wars and the money for it was raised from public subscriptions. The original inscription, on the East Side, said: "Erected by voluntary subscription by the inhabitants of Matlock Bath". This was removed to make room for the names of those who died in the Second World War, but its traces can still be seen. It originally held 22 names and a further 10 names were added following the Second World War. 

The Matlock Bath design was later used by James Beresford & Sons for similar war memorials in Cannock (unveiled in May 1923) and Scunthorpe (November 1926). The war memorial is maintained by the Parish and the District Council.

Choosing the right stone for a War Memorial?

Prior to construction, much time and thought had been put into choosing what stone to use for the memorial. The most locally available stone was limestone, a sedimentary stone clearly subject to erosion due to the fact we are deep in a gorge here carved out over many years by the river. Sandstone and millstone grit are also available closeby. However, the rocks chosen in the end came from Cornwall and from Italy. This EarthCache looks at why that choice was made and you can decide if it was the right one.

Sedimentary Rock Options

Limestone - A sedimentary rock largely made of calcium carbonate (often in the form of crushed shells or round grains called oolites). It is found locally and is generally soft enough to be worked by hand. Minerals such as clay and iron can change the appearance and characteristics of the stone considerably. Its durability will also be affected by the way in which it is used (especially the orientation of the natural bedding plane) and the degree of weathering to which it is exposed. The colour and texture of limestone varies from the even, fine texture of pale grey Portland (Dorset), through to the rich, warm, yellow, open texture of Ham Hill (Somerset). It has been used for almost all components of memorials, including steps, ashlar blocks and columns, as well as for decorative and carved elements.

Sandstone/Gritstone - A sedimentary rock found most commonly in the north and west of England, again locally available. It varies considerably in texture, durability and colour – from the deep red of St Bees (Cumbria), to the pale cream of Stancliffe (Derbyshire). These differences in appearance and behaviour derive from the way in which different grains (mainly quartz but also clay, feldspar, mica and glauconite) are bound together by the natural cement of the stone (mostly quartz but also calcite and iron compounds). The mineral content and the type of cement give rise to the geological terminology such as argillaceous sandstone (containing significant amounts of clay) or calcareous sandstone (quartz bound together by calcite). Like limestone, it is a versatile material which can be used for almost any purpose on a memorial. Although many sandstones appear durable, they are susceptible to weathering and deterioration - some faster than others.

Igneous Rock Options

Granite - Granite is one of the most common forms of igneous rock found in Britain. It is coarse and mainly formed of quartz, feldspar and mica crystals. These provide the typical flecked appearance and colouring that varies from pink to grey. It is mainly sourced in Devon, Cornwall and Scotland. Granite is dense and durable but because it is difficult to cut using hand tools it is rarely used for fine carving. It can be polished or left with a rough tooled surface finish. In memorials it tends to be used for substantial elements such as columns, plinths and crosses.

Methamorphic Rock Options 

Slate - A metamorphic rock naturally found in several regions of England. At one time the Midlands contained many slate quarries but these are now redundant, though other sources in Cumbria and Cornwall are still active. Slate is formed from the recrystallization of fine-grained sedimentary or igneous rocks under extreme pressure or temperature. It is extremely durable and fine in texture but its layered structure makes it liable to de-lamination (flaking). It is often used for inscription panels.

Marble - Marble is a metamorphic rock that forms when limestone is subjected to the heat and pressure of metamorphism. It is composed primarily of the mineral calcite (CaCO3) and usually contains other minerals, such as clay minerals, micas, quartz, pyrite, iron oxides, and graphite. During metamorphism, the calcite recrystallizes and the texture of the rock changes. In the early stages of the limestone-to-marble transformation, the calcite crystals in the rock are very small. In a freshly-broken hand specimen, they might only be recognized as a sugary sparkle of light reflecting from their tiny cleavage faces when the rock is played in the light. As metamorphism progresses, the crystals grow larger and become easily recognizable as interlocking crystals of calcite. Recrystallization obscures the original fossils and sedimentary structures of the limestone. It also occurs without forming foliation, which normally is found in rocks that are altered by the directed pressure of a convergent plate boundary. Recrystallization is what marks the separation between limestone and marble. Marble that has been exposed to low levels of metamorphism will have very small calcite crystals. The crystals become larger as the level of metamorphism progresses. Clay minerals within the marble will alter to micas and more complex silicate structures as the level of metamorphism increases.

There are no true marbles from England, only limestone that can be polished, such as that from Purbeck (Dorset). The marble found on memorials is therefore imported and consequently expensive. It is usually finished to a fine polish and was often used for inscription panels or sculpture. Perhaps the most common marble encountered is white Carrara from Italy; its purity of colour and fine-grained texture made it ideally suited for detailed carving. External marble is susceptible to weathering, particularly through sugaring of the surface. 

Decay, Deterioration and Damage

Whichever stone chosen for Matlock Bath, it would have had certain advantages and disadvantages and this final section looks at the main risks to the stone used on war memorials. The location of this memorial will help determine which of the potential problems are likely to apply here. The information here is based on guidelines given to councils by the war memorial trust and is therefore specifically aimed at war memorials.

The stone components of war memorials are subject to a variety of decay mechanisms that can be generally categorised as chemical, physical and biological. The presence and behaviour of moisture is a common theme and plays a significant part in any deterioration. Because stone is a natural material it is bound to deteriorate to some extent over time but decay can also be due to previous attempts to repair or preserve the memorial.

Chemical - Some atmospheric gases, such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and ozone can cause decay of stone surfaces. The effects are associated with the formation of gypsum (calcium sulphate), a mineral that is more water-soluble than the carbonate minerals from which it is formed. This is typically found as a black crust in protected areas of limestone memorials. Marbles (and some limestones) are particularly sensitive to chemical attack from acids formed from the combination of pollutant gases and water. This can lead to erosion of detail (especially lettering) and the loosening or ‘sugaring’ of grains. Mineral changes near the surface of sandstone can cause a brittle and less permeable crust to be formed. This eventually exfoliates and is often referred to as ‘contour scaling’. Deposits on sandstone, unlike those on limestone, are not generally durable, can deteriorate (particularly in damp polluted environments) through the breakdown of silicate minerals within the stone; this results in crumbling of the surface. Rainfall can be slightly acidic as a result of both the dissolution of carbon dioxide and pollution. This can lead to the erosion of limestone and marble as well as encouraging mineralogical changes in other stones. 

Physical - Sedimentary rocks, such as limestone and sandstone, are formed by deposition of particles, which build up in layers termed ‘beds’. In any construction, stone should be placed so that its natural bedding plane is perpendicular to applied forces or weathering. If this is not the case, weathering takes advantage of the natural weaknesses between the beds and can lead to delamination of the stone. Inscription panels, particularly because of the height required, may be ‘edge bedded’ with their bedding planes parallel with the face. This makes them susceptible to delamination leading to loss of inscriptions and surface details. Beds within sedimentary rocks can also contain varying amounts of clay. As clay expands when wet and contracts as it dries, repeated wetting /drying cycles can cause clay-rich beds to decay preferentially. This can be manifested either through different degrees of erosion or (for sandstones particularly) delamination of the surface. Slate is extremely durable and may remain sound even in the most inhospitable situations, but it is still susceptible to delamination. 

With war memorials, another physical weathering problem is disruption through soluble salts. Salts can be present as a result of: 

  • Ground water which contains dissolved salts derived mostly from the natural degradation of plant materials ? 
  • Rainfall run-off or splash–back contaminated with salts, especially from roads and pavements treated with de-icing grit 
  • Materials used in the construction or repair of a memorial, especially cement 
  • Sea salt either from contaminated sand used in the construction or, for memorials close to the sea, blown by the wind 

The stone of a memorial is normally buried in or has contact with the ground and, because stone is generally porous, it will act as a wick for both the ground water and any run-off or splashing of contaminated rainwater. As this evaporates salts will appear as crystals, often white in colour. This is generally referred to as efflorescence and should not cause major damage; it can be brushed off with a natural bristle brush. When salts crystallise within the sub-surface pore structure of the stone (known as cryptoflorescence), internal stresses are created which lead to the weakening and loss of stone. Repeated wetting and drying cycles exacerbate this process by causing salts to go into and out of solution. 

Freeze/thaw activity is also a physical weathering problem. The way that water runs off may not have been a principal consideration when the memorial was designed. However, if there are flat areas (for example paving or steps) or open joints and surface voids where water is trapped, the surface may remain saturated. If water within the pores of the stone is subject to freezing, it can create a bursting pressure that causes decay. A freeze/thaw cycle can be repeated many times each winter, leading to crumbling of the surface and the gradual disappearance of details such as inscriptions. Frost damage on stone memorials can be extensive and destructive, particularly if the damaged stone is not repaired before the next winter.

Biological weathering is the final category.

  • Trees - Well-maintained war memorials tend not to be liable to damage from this source. However, trees may be an intentional or unintentional part of the surroundings of a memorial and so they can become invasive. For example, memorials too close to trees can suffer damage from roots or staining from deposits such as sap. 
  • Shrubs and climbing plants - These can engulf a memorial, prevent the evaporation of moisture and attach themselves to vulnerable surfaces. Woody species, such as Buddleia cause physical damage by establishing root systems within joints which then push elements of monuments apart. Creeping plants, such as ivy or Virginia creeper are tenacious and can cause physical damage as well as trapping moisture and encouraging staining on the surfaces. There are many non-woody herbaceous plants that cause no problems, but any plant that causes disruption to pointing between stone elements can cause moisture to get into the memorial with potential adverse consequences.
  • Lower plants - The discolouration and patina caused by microbiological growths (such as bacteria, moulds, algae and lichens) often add to the mellow and historic appearance of war memorials. Although this may be generally desirable, excessive colonisation can obscure inscriptions. Some growths secrete acidic deposits or hold moisture, which in the long term may lead to slight deterioration of the stone surface.

Human interventions are the final category we need to consider as well as the natural threats to the stone of a war memorial. Despite the best of intentions, some previous repairs of stone memorials may have led to further deterioration. This is why it is so important that the correct methods and materials are used. The most common ways in which previous repairs can cause problems are:

  • Cleaning - Stone is vulnerable to inappropriate cleaning processes that lead to the pores of the surface being exposed; this allows pollutants to collect and microbiological growths to become established. The cleaning process might have been too aggressive (for example sand blasting), inappropriate for the type of stone (for example chemical cleaning of limestone with acidic-based cleaners) or too frequent (for example regular maintenance using a pressure washer).
  • Pointing - It is likely that most stone war memorials will have been repointed at some stage. This is primarily to prevent moisture ingress and plant growth but it also improves the appearance. Cement mortars were often used in the past, but these tend to be hard and impervious. They will tend to crack and encourage moisture movement through the adjacent stone rather than through the pointing; this can lead to accelerated decay of the stone.
  • Surface treatment - Products that claim to protect and preserve stone have been around for a long time. Many of these were based on silicones, more recently replaced by siloxanes. All of them will claim ‘moisture permeability’ but this usually means that they are permeable to water vapour and not liquid water. If used in the past they will have changed the moisture transfer characteristics of the stone, which can lead to lamination of the surface. 

When considering the decay of this memorial, you should think about the specific nature of the location. This memorial is deep in a valley where the industrial revolution is said to have been born with the first cotton mill just up the river. At one time the valley was packed with mills, first water powered, but by the time the memorial was built they would have been coal. Imagine how the pollution might have been trapped down here in the deep valley. Even today, car fumes must still struggle to escape the valley on a still day. But then again, what advantages does a deep valley offer? Shelter from weather elements? Greater or less frosts? You must consider these factors.

Logging Requirements (Questions to Answer)

When designing the war memorial many years ago those responsible wanted to build a fitting tribute to the war casualties that would stand up to the test of time. However, as with many war memorials, with the money being drawn from public subscription a limited budget was available. The purpose of this EarthCache is to examine the stone chosen and see how well it has lasted over the last hundred years, and how well you think it will last in the future.

It is a requirement for you to send me the answers below in order to qualify to log a find. Please include some detail as to why you think something is the case, however, there is no need to feel you have to write too much - essays are not required. Please send the answers to me via the message center or by email. I will always try and reply but please don't wait before you log. If you want a reply quickly emailing is better.

1) Examine the pedestal section of the memorial. Please describe what you see. Include the following points.

a) Colours / texture of the rock.

b) Make-up of the rock - is it sedimentary stone grains or minerals/crystals.

c) Sizes and shapes of the grains /or crystals /or minerals

d) How smooth is the rock? Is this natural or has man altered the rock, if so what have they done and why do you think this is the case?

e) How detailed is the carving here and what condition is it in? What are the properties of this specific rock that have made this to be the case (including hardness/softness)?

f) Based on your analysis, which of the rock types outlined above do you believe this to be?

2) Continuing to look at the pedestal and other parts of the memorial made from the same rock type, please now consider the condition of the stone. Based on the 'Decay, Deterioration and Damage' section above, what impact has the last hundred years or so had one the stone? Your answer should include mentioning

a) Physical weathering

b) Chemical weathering

c) Biological weathering

d) Council interventions (this memorial is cleaned every few years - is this good or bad?)

Mention any weathering you see, or equally state if you don't believe there has been any weathering of each type and please include your reasons/observations.

3) Examine the carvings on the upper section of the memorial. This is very clearly a different rock to the one you have been studying so far. Please describe what you see. Include the following points.

a) Colours / texture of the rock.

b) Make-up of the rock - is it sedimentary stone grains or minerals/crystals.

c) Sizes / shapes of grains / crystals / minerals

d) How detailed is the carving here and what condition is it in? What are the properties of this specific rock that have made this to be the case (including hardness/softness)?

e) Based on your analysis, which of the rock types outlined above do you believe this to be?

4) Continuing to look at the upper area where figures have been carved, please now consider the condition of the stone. Based on the 'Decay, Deterioration and Damage' section above, what impact has the last hundred years or so had one the stone? Your answer should include mentioning

a) Physical weathering

b) Chemical weathering

c) Biological weathering

d) Council interventions (this memorial is cleaned every few years - is this good or bad?)

Mention any weathering you see, or equally state if you don't believe there has been any weathering of each type and please include your reasons/observations.

5) Do you think the designers and builders made a good choice choosing these two stone types and how well do you think it will resist weathering over the next 1000 years? Why?

You are welcome to include a photo of yourself/GPSr/personal item with the war memorial in the background as this is good additional proof of your visit. If you do, please stand well away from the memorial so people cannot use the photos to answer the questions. Thank you for visiting the war memorial at Matlock Bath.

The series is dedicated to those who fought for their country. "We will remember them!”

If anyone would like to place a War Memorial Cache of your own then please do so. We would ask if you do so please contact Just-us-Two through their profile page or
so they can keep track of the numbers

Please note, physical caches are not allowed to be placed on the actual memorial or within the boundary of such memorials. Please treat war memorials with the appropriate respect when finding or hiding geocaches.

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

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Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)