Old Penwithians War Memorial

The War Memorial and Roll of Honour

In December 2005 the association secretary was approached by the Headmaster of Humphry Davy School to ask whether the association would be willing to help with the refurbishment of the Old Penwithians War Memorial at the school. Although still taking pride of place in the assembly hall it was in a poor condition after decades of being on display and beginning to feel its age. It was in desperate need of a facelift; joints were starting to crack and come apart and it needed stripping and re-varnishing.

The memorial was originally funded by public subscription and is made up of five panels, six columns and an ornate frieze. It was carved in oak by a local craftsman, Mr. Pezzack of Newlyn, and is thought to have cost £230. The memorial was erected by Mr. Pezzack and a local builder, Mr. F. Berriman, and was unveiled and dedicated by Capt. C. E. Venning, the mayor of Penzance, on December 17th 1919. A total of 214 names are recorded, including the names of the 19 who died; these are etched into brass plates at the top of the panels to the left and right of the centre panel.


At the annual reunion at the end of December 2005 the headmaster’s request for the OPA to refurbish the paneling was discussed and all present agreed that the association should support the project. It was also agreed that the next step would be to look for a suitable craftsman and get an estimate of costs. When the cost was known and a proper estimate was in place members would be approached to contribute towards the cost. However, following the meeting John Mead, an old boy and erstwhile design and woodwork teacher, who had worked on the stage, lectern and memorial in the past, offered to carry out a survey of the work and, if there were no real complications, to undertake the refurbishment task. Unless he found something like dry rot, the cost would be minimal as he would carry out the restoration at no cost. John in fact carried out minor refurbishment of the memorial in 2006 but to carry out major restoration the whole thing would need to be dismantled.