Hyde War Memorial Trust

About Hyde War Memorial Trust

The Trust administers 150 acres of land on Werneth Low.   The land is dedicated to the memory of those who died in war and is open for public use.

The objectives of the Trust are:

- To administer the Trust land for the health and well being of the community.

The land forms part of a Country Park giving public access to a pleasant area of countryside near the town centre.
At present we are working to improve land stewardship.

- To look after the war memorial standing in a prominent position on the land.

Memorial services are held there each year on the Sundays nearest Peace Day and Armistice Day.
Biographical information about the fallen men is shown on this web site.

The Trust is run by a Committee of Trustees which meets several times each year.   At present it has the following membership:
Betty Affleckrepresenting Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council
Peter Aingerrepresenting Hyde United AFC
John Bellrepresenting Gee Cross Community Centre
Phil Chadwickrepresenting Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council
Chair   -  Jane Durkinrepresenting Holy Trinity Church, Gee Cross
Secretary   -  Susan Ellisrepresenting Werneth Low Neighbourhood Watch
Margaret Halliday
Sue Plackettrepresenting Gee Cross Neighbourhood Group
Andrew Richardsonrepresenting Hyde POP
Carl Rogersonco-opted

All inhabitants of the area of the former Borough of Hyde who are at least 18 years of age can attend and vote at the Trust's Annual General Meeting.

Werneth Low Country Park

Werneth Low Country Park was created in 1978 following an agreement between the Trust and Tameside Metropolitan Borough.   The Trust's 150 acres forms three-quarters of the Park the other quarter is on land owned by the Borough.

The Park is managed by a Joint Management Committee which meets three time a year.   The Trust appoints five members.   The Chair usually alternates: one year a representative of the Trust, the next year a representative of the Borough.  

The Future

The agreement had a fixed term, it ended in 2020.   Discussions on a new agreement between Hyde War Memorial Trust and Tameside Metropolitan Borough are continuing.   One thing can be certain: the aim of the Trust will be to keep its land open for public use.

A History of the Hyde War Memorial Trust

In 1920 the War Memorial Committee of Hyde Borough Council wanted to build a memorial to the men of the Borough who had died in the First World War.   Using money subscribed by the community, the Committee purchased the 150 acre Lower Higham Farm and built a war memorial on part of its land, a high point overlooking the town.   The war memorial was unveiled to the public on the 25th June 1921.   During that ceremony the deeds of the land were handed to the Mayor of Hyde who said that it would become a "natural park at the disposal of the public".

On the 11th February 1924 a charitable trust was set up to look after the land.   The aims of Hyde War Memorial Trust were to look after the war memorial, to hold two memorial ceremonies there each year (on the Sundays nearest Peace Day and Armistice Day), and to use the surrounding 150 acres "for the health and well being of the community".

From the 1920s to the 1970s the land was used jointly as a dairy farm and public open space.   Fields and the farm house and buildings at Lower Higham were rented to a farmer.   Land around Hackingknife and the footpaths leading to it were kept open for public use.   Rent from the farm was used to keep the war memorial and footpaths in good repair.

There had been a fairly close relationship between Hyde War Memorial Trust and Hyde Borough Council.   This changed in 1974 when Hyde Borough was abolished in a re-organisation of local government.   The town of Hyde then became part of the new, much larger, Metropolitan Borough of Tameside.

By the mid 1970s changes in farming had made the small farm unviable.   The farm buildings were falling into disrepair and it was proposed to sell them.   The Royal British Legion and others objected.   To prevent the sale they asked the Charity Commission to intervene.  

Following Public Meetings the Charity Commission proposed a reformed Trust.   The reformed Hyde War Memorial Trust was launched on the 5th March 1976.   The aims of the trust remain the same, but to ensure that the land remains open to the public it was "vested in" the Official Custodian for Charities who hold the land on behalf of Hyde War Memorial Trust.

In 1978 the Trust and the new Metropolitan Borough agreed to create a "Country Park" using the 150 acres of Trust land together with 40 acres of land owned by the Borough.   The Trust and the Metropolitan Borough set up a Joint Committee to manage the Park.  

To prepare for the Country Park, the farm buildings at Lower Higham were renovated and remodelled into a Visitor Centre and a home for a Countryside Ranger.   Werneth Low Country Park was formally opened to the public on 9th of June 1980.   Since then the footpaths, stone walls, and hedges have been maintained and improved, and the gardens at Lower Higham have been transformed into a series of "rooms" with different themes and purposes.

The agreement between the Trust and the Borough had a fixed term, it ended in 2020.   Talks between the two parties to create a new agreement are still in progress, but the Country Park remains open as normal.  

During the Covid lockdown of 2020 - 2021 the Visitor Centre was closed to the public.   This was taken as an opportunity do a much needed refurbushment of the Centre and the flat above.   The Centre re-opened in 2022 and includes a small cafe.   The flat above, no-longer needed for a Countryside Ranger, was let. The rental income goes towards the upkeep of the park.