Friday 11 November, 2016
The bronze war memorial at Goldsmiths' Hall records the names of those members of staff who left to serve their country in World War One, including two who received medals on active service and the five who were killed.
At a special Court meeting on 3 September 1914, the Clerk, Sir Walter Prideaux, reported that nearly half of the staff had already gone to serve within the armed services or as special constables. It was also reported that others wished to go. Those who requested to leave were told that their jobs would be held open for them and they would continue to be paid (a condition that had to be reivsed as the years passed).
The Court Records over the years record the names of those injured, missing and dead and, in the same neat hand the poignant detail that work increased in the Assay Office in 1916 as large numbers of gold wedding rings were brought to be hallmarked.
Sir Walter Prideaux's son, Humphrey Hollond Prideaux, enroled at St Paul's Churchyard on 28 August 1914. His Soldier's Small Book, kept at the Imperial War Museum, records that at age 36 he was 6'1" with grey eyes and brown hair, and lived at Goldsmiths' Hall. Prideaux received the Distinguished Service Order and the Miltary Cross, serving in France and Belgium between 1915 and 1919. He also won the Belgian Cross du Guerre and was mentioned three times in dispatches. After the War, Humphrey became a member of staff until 1945, dying in 1964.
The other medal winner recorded of the memorial is F.C.King, a marker in the Assay Office, who began working for the Company in 1912, aged 15. King served as a mechanic in the Royal Flying Corps and was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry in action under fire.
The permanent memorial at Goldsmiths' Hall was made by Gawthorp & Sons Ltd and was unveiled on Monday 19 March 1923. Those listed on the memorial brought close relatives to the ceremony, with a lunch at the Hall afterwards. Those present included the the son and grandsons of Horace Skinner, a Company porter and one of those who had 'passed out of the sight of men' after he died of his wounds in July 1918.