A NEW memorial garden has been unveiled to commemorate the former Cottage Hospital in the grounds of a new retirement development.

McCarthy Stone has built new homes on the historic site of the community built former cottage hospital created as a memorial to those killed in the First World War.

Knutsford Town Council supported McCarthy Stone to put in place plans to ensure as much of the heritage of Memorial House was retained.

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The plinth from the Haron Baronian statue forms the focal point of the new memorial gardens.

Knutsford Guardian: The new memorial garden at Centennial Place The new memorial garden at Centennial Place (Image: McCarthy Stone)

A marble dedication plaque from Knutsford and District War Memorial Cottage Hospital is proudly on display alongside the newly created interpretation board that tells the history of the site.

To further keep history alive, McCarthy Stone has used bricks saved from the hospital as part of the gate piers.

To mark the opening, town mayor Councillor Peter Coan unveiled a blue plaque, awarded by Knutsford Town Council, to commemorate the war memorial hospital that Centennial Place replaced.

Cllr Coan said: “The blue plaque and memorial gardens help to ensure that the important history of this site will never be lost.

“Visitors to Centennial Place will be reminded of what stood before.

“We were pleased to work with McCarthy Stone on the detailed panel which records a full history of the site from 1922 to 2022.”

The memorial gardens are at the front of the site on Northwich Road and open to all members of the public to visit.

The hospital was built by the community as a war memorial following the First World War and opened in 1922.

Funds were raised by community subscriptions.

The community hospital was built on land donated by Cuthbert Leicester Warren.

The land was conveyed to the hospital trustees in 1937 with a covenant that it remains a hospital.

Following the National Health Service Act 1946, ownership of the hospital was transferred to the Government.

The community continued to support the hospital through the League of Hospital Friends.

In 1994 the health authority declared the hospital was surplus to requirements. Consultation was undertaken and it is understood the community supported the British Red Cross using the hospital for its services.

Knutsford Town Council supported this on the basis that if the British Red Cross ever vacated the site it would return to the government; such a clause was not included.

McCarthy and Stone bought Memorial House from the British Red Cross in 2017.

Despite strenuous efforts by the town council, who had objected to the scheme, and local campaigners to save the building, Cheshire East Council granted planning permission for the demolition and re-development of the site in 2019.

A petition calling on Cheshire East Council to protect Memorial House attracted 4,248 signatures.

Charlotte Peters Rocks, a long-standing and vociferous opponent of the plans to demolish Memorial House, said at the time: “Young men left this community to do their ‘duty for King and country’.

"Many never returned, some have no known grave, yet this community, all classes working together in shock and grief and loss, managed over decades to fund this wonderful memorial – and aid – to those men.

"The Memorial Hall of Knutsford and District War Memorial should not be destroyed in removal, but repositioned, complete, at some other ‘suitable site to remembrance’, either within the town or parishes to whose residents it belongs."

Fiona Brooks, sales and marketing director for McCarthy Stone, said: “We think that it’s vitally important to honour the local communities that we build in so it was no question that we paid tribute to the longstanding war memorial hospital that stood here.”

Centennial Place offers 46 one and two-bedroom luxury retirement apartments designed to meet the specific needs of the over 60s.

A full and varied lifestyle is on offer at Centennial Place, with shared spaces where new friendships can flourish.

These include a spacious lounge and attractive landscaped gardens, along with a guest suite for when loved ones stay overnight.

For peace of mind, there is a house manager on site during office hours to oversee the day-to-day running of the development, in addition to a 24-hour emergency call system and door camera entry.

Properties start at £385,000 for a one-bedroom retirement home and £449,999 for a two-bedroom apartment.