FOR the first time in more than 50 years, the finest wood-carved Great War memorial to some of the 1,300 Darwen lads who died, has gone on display in Blackburn Museum.

The solid oak memorial was the first piece that arts and crafts expert Stanley Webb Davies completed as he embarked on his new career after three years of relief work in France during the war.

He was the youngest of the three sons of Darwen mill owner and Quaker Thomas P. Davies and, after education at Bootham School, York, and Oxford, worked tirelessly with the Friends' War Victims Relief team after refusing to fight.

After the war he decided against joining the family firm which ran Greenfield and Waterfield Mills and instead headed south to take up his schoolboy interest in woodworking at Christchurch where he studied under the renowned Arthur Romney Green.

The Greenfield Mill memorial was his first commission and it came, not surprisingly, from his proud father, a former Mayor of Darwen.

Greenfield Mill ended production in the 1950s and it housed furniture manufacturing companies till it finally closed some 20 years later.

The memorial, nearly 5ft by 7ft and very heavy, was taken to Blackburn Museum for safe-keeping.

It made an appearance last summer in a book on Davies co-written by Darwen journalist Harold Heys and academic Dr Ian Naylor.

Museum curators Caroline Wilkinson and Stephanie Seville read the book and decided it was time the memorial was brought up and given pride of place in a Great War Trail they had been constructing.

Caroline explained: "The focus is on objects that relate to stories of people during the Great War. The trail is proving to be an interesting – and free – activity for visitors to the museum, especially as it's the centenary of the conflict."

Davies was still at Oxford when conscription was introduced early in 1916. As a Conscientious Objector, he refused to join up and his military tribunal followed soon afterwards.

He applied for exemption but was turned down. After a spell in prison, he went to work in France. It ruined his health.

The memorial was unveiled by TP Davies at the mill in September 1921. Young Davies later carved a second one for the men of Waterfield Mill.

• There are still a few copies of the Davies book, produced by the Friends of Darwen Library, available at Darwen Library.

Blackburn Museum opens in the afternoons from Thursday to Saturday.