Making of the Workers Memorial John Riley

Dedicated to the men women and children who have lost their lives through their jobs

It all started when I was listening to the conversations between Martin Bond and Richard McCauley talking about the workers memorial in Ontario Canada

This intrigued me, why did the Canadians honour their fallen workers with a memorial and why didn't we.

Do the Canadians think more of their workers than we do? Something was not right. Something needed doing. So in 2016 we set up The Workers Memorial Charity To provide support for those so affected an raise funds to erect a monument to the fallen

The Workers Memorial a place of REMEMBRANCE

This is close to my heart as my family have been affected by a workplace accident many many years ago. It happened when I was a young man, my dad went to work one day as normal, the next time he came home it was in his coffin, this was 6 months before he was due to retire. His sudden death came at a time when we where all looking forward to his retirement. This brought on feelings of anger, depression, frustration, outrage, revenge, all mixed up with grief. Making for some very complicated emotions

Warrington No1 Signal box

My Dad, a signalman, seen on the left some years before his untimely death

The child with hair of nails, created from tools

What mostly got to me was the lack of recognition there was no public acknowledgement From that moment on our lives changed forever, the loss of a husband dad granddad, financial uncertainty, isolation.

Social support can reduce the effect of such a loss and having a public memorial shows such support to affected families

As anyone who is involved with a charity will know raising money isn't easy. Many letters get written many get ignored. After years of raising funds

It Began

The sculpture was created by Martin Galbavy a very talented Slovakian artist and blacksmith based in Dorset England, using old tools, scrap metal and a lot of skill.

Martin at work in his studio

The tools were gathered from the St Helens area, some of them had been passed on from father to son, tradesman to apprentice. The tools where then shipped to Martin to be included in the figures. This gives the statue it's industrial pedigree

The Skellington

As the sculpture took shape in Dorset, the foundation was being prepared in St Helens, in anticipation of the statue being delivered on time

From a hole in the ground to a completed monument in less than 2 weeks, a big ask by anyone's standards


We where on a tight schedule. It's the 19th April, we wanted to complete for the Workers Memorial day Sunday 28th April. At this point in time we didn't even have a statue. Martin was doing his best. We knew it was going to go to the wire

Time was of a premium, we had set a very ambitious schedule. We couldn't afford any slipups

Old tools and scrap iron to create the sculpture

Martin had started creating the sculpture some months earlier, but, even so, the deadline was tight for him

From scrap to a sculpture

The delivery

Unloading the iron man after a 250 mile trip

Tuesday 23rd April 2019 the statue arrives on site. To finish by Sunday the 28th, a tough ask. A lot of work to be done

the location with a 19th century map overlaid showing the extent of the rail links

The monument is located in Vera Page Park. St Helens. Merseyside. England UK

Within an hour of the statue arriving the concrete wagon arrives

The base made from concrete, lots of concrete! and topped off with setts

Darren keeps a watchful eye on things
Ste and Darren confer
Smoothing the concrete
A quick hose down

After the concrete set the next stage was to lay a base of cobbles, setts to use to correct term.

Darren laying the setts

Making nice progress, all going well


Rain stopped play

Friday 26th April 2019. Storm Hannah blew in and stopped work.

High winds gusting at 70 mph and heavy rain stopped work

Losing a day to the weather on such a tight schedule could mean failure. This was definitely going to the wire. Everyone pulled the stops out

The work was finished just in time for the opening ceremony

Against the odds, the monument was ready for the opening ceremony, performed by the Lord Mayor of St Helens Pat Ireland and attended by many dignitaries on Sunday 28th April 2019

Speeches by Marie Rimmer MP. Councillor Richard McCauley. John Riley. councillor Derek Long and author Lynn Gerard reads a poem

The young and not so young turned out.

Workers memorial day is celebrated internationally on the 28th April each year

A monument with heritage and a pedigree

Most of the materials used in the making of the monument are recycled, all have a tale to tell.

The history in the recycled materials give the monument a pedigree and industrial heritage

Rail and sleepers donated by Network Rail

The statue is fenced in by sleepers and railway lines.

The site was originally called lyons yard

The significance of the sleepers and rail, is that where the monument is sited, was in it's heyday, railway sidings, servicing a nearby coal mine, glass works and chemical factory.

History in a rail

One of the rails has cast into the side of it “Workington 1966” denoting the place and year of manufacture. The Workington steel works was closed down in 2006. Coincidentally 1966 was the year Mr Beeching started to swing the axe on the railway network

Did this engine ever shunt into the sidings?

The cobbles come from the dock road in Liverpool

Cobbles or setts to be precise

Together this gives heritage to the plinth

Everyone working on the project was aware of the significance of the monument. Some of the people involved in the project had also been affected by a workplace tragedy and had a story to tell

The Iron Man holding child with hair of nails. A place to reflect

The tools used in the making of the statue give it it's pedigree

Located in Vera Page Park

Tools passed from father to son

Tools passed from tradesman to apprentice

The Workers Memorial

From scrap iron to a work of art

The artists' signature on the statue

Martin in his workshop
From a rough sketches to reality


To compile a role of honour would be nigh impossible

There can be no role of honour as the risk of exclusion is too high and this monument is about inclusion. It's about the forgotten, the unsung, those that have lost their lives because of their job. Those. that by their toil have made our lives better. This is a monument to the thousands who have gone before.

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