THOUSANDS of people every day go past Colchester War Memorial.

It is one of the country’s most imposing war memorials with Colchester Castle as a picturesque backdrop.

Long lost from memory, however, is the name of the sculptor.

The distinctive memorial, unlike the design of most other war memorials, has been part of our visual history from when it was unveiled in 1922 to honour the more than 1,250 men from the town who lost their lives in the Great War, or the First World War as we now call it.

For the garrison town of Colchester, the town council wanted something special.

Thus it was that one of Britain’s most eminent sculptors, Henry Charles Fehr, was commissioned to design the memorial.

For today’s reader, the significance of that choice is that Mr Fehr had designed the frieze at the front of Middlesex Guildhall, on the south-west corner of Parliament Square, which opened in 1913.

In the modern era, from October 2009 the building has been the Supreme Court and it was there yesterday the court ruled on the momentous decision regarding the legal and parliamentary process of the UK leaving the European Union.

News coverage included photographs of the front of the building, showing the frieze designed by Mr Fehr who nine years later was the sculptor of Colchester War Memorial.

Other fascinating facts about Colchester’s rich history:

  • Former England and Manchester United football star Sir Bobby Charlton opened the headquarters of Colchester Building Society on July 13, 1981. This society was formed by the merger of the town’s two independent building societies, Colchester Equitable and Colchester Permanent.

In due course, Colchester Building Society was absorbed by the Cheltenham and Gloucester building society. The building in North Station Road, was opened by Sir Bobby. It is now known as Seatrade House. Colchester Building Society had a branch in Manchester, and its customers included the Charlton family.

  • In early Victorian Britain, very few people would have seen a black person, so it was something of major cultural significance when two escaped American slaves came to Colchester to speak on separate occasions in two of the town’s churches which were, coincidentally, opposite each other in the same street.

British sentiment in the 1840s, especially in Non-conformist circles, was opposed to slavery, which was still very much part of life in the United States ahead of the American Civil War. The record book of Stockwell Street Congregational Chapel, for September 30, 1840, states: “Moses Roper, an escaped American slave, spoke for two hours to an audience of around 1,500 – certainly the greatest number that ever got into Stockwell Chapel.

“He exhibited the whips, chains, etc. We sold 101 of his books at 2 shillings each (10p). May good arise to the sacred cause of religious and civil freedom.”

  • On March 4, 1847, a lecture was given by Frederick Douglass, who was described as an escaped American slave, at the Friends’ Meeting House which was on the corner of Quakers’ Alley and East Stockwell Street where the Town House is now.

Quakers established their Great Meeting House here in 1663 when the path linking East and West Stockwell streets was called St Martin’s Lane. This building burnt down in 1871. The first recorded note of black people in Colchester was when there was a spectacular military parade at Lexden Heath on May 2 1775 which included “two negro trumpeters with turbans and scimitars……”

  • For three years, a Wolf Cub Pack with boys from Shropshire was listed under the Colchester and District Boy Scouts. It was known as the 2nd Shropshire Regiment Cub Pack. The families of soldiers serving in the 2nd Battalion of The King’s Shropshire Light Regiment had sufficient sons to have their own Cub Pack while they were stationed at Colchester Garrison, in the now demolished Sobraon Barracks, from October 1931 to November 1934.
  • Colchester Bypass – Cymbeline Way, Colne Bank Avenue, Cowdray Avenue and St Andrew’s Avenue, collectively known as Avenue of Remembrance – was officially opened on June 24, 1933.
  • Until 1893 Scheregate was known as Shire Gate.