A memorial to a Liverpool soldier and gas worker, who was killed in action less than three weeks before the end of the First World War, can usually only be seen by a handful of people.
But that’s about to change, as Thomas Thompson’s modern-day comrades at Cadent look to give it pride of place at their depot in Garston.
They’re tracing descendants of Thomas, so they can be made aware of the memorial’s existence and pay their own respects should they wish to.
Thomas Thompson worked at Caryl Street gas works – which was once a huge gas production plant close to what is now Brunswick train station.
Born in Everton in 1894 and thought to be living in Arundel Street, Walton, when the war began, he enlisted and joined the Royal Field Artillery.
In this article
, RFA researchers explain that his unit, D Battery, 276 Brigade, landed in France with the 55th
Division in September 1915 and later relieved 42nd
(East Lancashire) Division on the frontline at Givenchy and Festubert in February 1918.
On 21 October 1918, as his unit advanced into Belgium, Thomas was killed. He was 24. He is buried in a churchyard in Esplechin, the town where he died.
His father, Robert, was a foreman at Caryl Street gas works and, at some point, this memorial to Thomas was engraved and added to a wall of the site.
Today the site is a gas pressure management station and only a handful of workers from gas network Cadent ever get to see the memorial.
Marc Satchell, a network technician at Cadent, explains that the plan is to move the memorial to a busier Cadent gas yard in nearby Garston, where it will take pride of place along with another First World War memorial that already exists there.
“That way many more people will be able to see this fantastic memorial and remember the sacrifice of gas workers like Thomas,” said Marc.
“We plan to put a plaque outside the site at Caryl Street, just so that people in the area can know about Thomas, and know that heroes really did exist and they came from this area.
"If we can track down any descendants, they can come to pay their respects and remember him – and know that Thomas is not forgotten and we will always remember the huge debt we owe to people like him.”
The story of Thomas must also be told alongside that of his friend, Alfred Welsby.
Three years younger, Alfred lived in Toxteth and – while it’s unlikely he knew Thomas before enlisting – the two were given consecutive military service numbers, after both joining the Royal Field Artillery.
After the war, Alfred married Thomas’s older sister, Catherine. They had a son, who they called Thomas. Alfred went on to work at Caryl Street gas works. He died in Liverpool in 1959.
Cadent in the North West
Cadent’s North West network stretches from the Lake District to Crewe and is home to 21,000 miles of distribution pipes (most of them underground) and hundreds of above ground installations like Caryl Street. If placed end-to-end, that amount of pipes would stretch from Liverpool to Sydney, Australia, and back again.
More than 83 per cent of North West households are heated by gas.
The region was among the first to adopt the use of gas over 200 years ago and is about to lead the way again in a shift away from fossil gas to hydrogen.
Producing only heat and water at point of use, hydrogen is key to the UK’s net zero future and is set to be introduced at volume in the North West during the 2020s, through a Cadent-backed project, HyNet North West