A majestic lion lays bestride a war memorial in a post-war housing estate, a memory of those who worked nearby and died far away.

The Crockett International Leather Cloth Company was based in West Ham and manufactured artificial leather and other textiles at its factory on Abbey Road from 1855 until it closed down in 1961.

Many of its staff signed up to fight in WW1, and following the armistice, as with many large firms of the time, a memorial was erected in their memory.

It stood within the factory grounds, near to the modern day Abbey Road DLR station, but was moved to its current location when the factory closed and the land cleared for housing.

The memorial comprises a rectangular Portland stone pylon carrying a carved lion couchant, looking out over the nearby streets. It used to have more stonework at the base, but this was lost when the memorial was moved to its current location.

Originally it commemorated the 15 members of staff who died in WW1, but as with many WW1 memorials, it needed editing a few years later, for the dead of WW2.

There are now 24 names of former leatherworkers on the memorial, plus Comte Robert de Lesseps, who seems to be a bit of mystery as to why he was named here, as he doesn’t seem to be connected to the leatherworking factory.

On the north-east face the later dedication reads IN MEMORY OF THOSE/ SERVICE AND CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES/ WHO LOST THEIR LIVES/ 1939 – 1945 (10 NAMES).

On the south-west face of the base, a badly eroded inscription reads THIS MEMORIAL WAS ERECTED BY/ THE DIRECTORS OF THE LEATHER CLOTH COMPANY LTD/ IN MEMORY OF THOSE WHO FELL FIGHTING 1914-1919.

Although the memorial looks forlorn and unloved it has been cleaned in recent years, as the lion used to be black with pollution, and on the handful of times I’ve walked past, there’s usually been a wreath laid beside the lion in memory of those who died.

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6 comments
  1. Tom says:

    I every year for the last 6 years have laid a wreath of poppies by the lion of the war memorial in Leather Gardens E15. 6 years ago I worked just around the corner to Leather Gardens and came across this memorial that was ignored every year on Remembrance Sunday. So I went about organising for the memorial to be cleaned a d made a promise that as long as I was working and living in Newham I would honour their memory and ensure that whilst all the big parades of remembrance were happening at the same time I play the last post and am silent for 2 minutes at this loved and cherished memorial to our service men and woman who played the ultimate sacrifice so that we live freely without ever having to go to war on such a grand scale ever again

    • Nigel Swan says:

      My mother Joan Oakley, started work at Crockett’s when she was 15 in 1939. She worked there until her marriage in December 1944. She had a certificate thanking her and her colleagues for continuing to work “whilst enemy aircraft were overhead”. (they didn’t always bother taking shelter). Grand people in terrible times. Thank you for the blog, and thank you to the man looking after the memorial.

  2. Tom Nixon says:

    This memorial is loved. And every year still I place a wreath to rest on the lion. More people now attend our act of rememberance through word of mouth or curiosity. We just need from tomorrow to locally put pressure on Newham Council to get this monument proffessionaly cleaned again.

  3. Alan Bristow says:

    I have just found out my grandfathers brother Frederick bristow is on the memorial, if there is anything I can do to support the pressure on newham council to maintain the monument I will

  4. Christine Bolton says:

    My Uncle John Beadle is listed on the memorial he died in WW2. He worked at the Leathercloth factory as did my Mum Susan Edwards and my cousin Winifred Edward. The factory obviously provided much needed work for local people. I’m so pleased it has been retained and not gone the way of so much of old Stratford & West Ham

  5. Wellsy says:

    Growing up in this street as a small child I always wondered what it represented.As older boy I read the names in it and realised it’s significanCE. In hindsight it’s a shame ewham council haven’t given it the respect it deserves.

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