Tenterfield Boer War Memorial

Tenterfield Boer War Memorial

The Tenterfield RSL sub-Branch was awarded two Community War Memorials Fund (CWMF) grants in 2021 to support the conservation of the Tenterfield Boer War Memorial.

Unveiled on 28 March 1903, the Tenterfield Boer War Memorial commemorates three local men who died while serving during the Boer War (South African War, 1899–1902). They were Trooper William Bender and Sergeant-Major James Mitchell of the Tenterfield Mounted Rifles, and Trooper Arthur Percy Britten Grey. Paid for solely by donations from the Tenterfield Half Squadron of the Mounted Rifles, the memorial was erected in front of the former Tenterfield Gymnasium and Recreation Club, which became the site of the Tenterfield and District Soldiers Memorial Hall in 1924.

Boer War Memorial in front of the Tenterfield Gymnasium and Recreation Club 1903.

Boer War Memorial in front of the Tenterfield Gymnasium and Recreation Club, 1903. Photograph courtesy of Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales. 

The monument is topped by a statue of a mounted rifleman standing at ease which was sculpted by Charles O'Kelly of Sydney using Ravensfield sandstone. The construction work was undertaken by stonemasons Browne and Co. of Maitland, whose name is inscribed on one of the memorial’s four Carrara marble tablets. The base is made of New England granite and sandstone and features the crest of the regiment (a leopard’s head) and its motto ‘Toujours Pret’ (Always Ready).

Thomas Browne Monumental Works 1922

Thomas Browne Monumental Works, High Street, Maitland, N.S.W. Image from “With Compliments, West Maitland”, 1922. Photograph courtesy of Maitland Library.

The importance of the Boer War Memorial to the Tenterfield community can be summed by the words of Mr. C. A. Lee, M.P who spoke at the unveiling ceremony on 22 April 1903 and said “The sole cost of the purchase and erection of the memorial had been borne by the members of the Half Squadron without any outside assistance.  They had done honour to themselves, and the regiment and they should feel proud men that day.  The commanding officer of the regiment was proud to take part in the unveiling of that sad memorial.  The memorial would be there for all times and would stand out as a beacon to show those who came after them what kind of men the mounted rifles were made of – men who could die like men in the pursuance of their duty.  The memorial would perpetuate their memory”.

— Dave Stewart, President Tenterfield RSL sub-Branch

By February 2021, the memorial had become covered with dirt and lichen, pointing and stonework were failing in some areas, and several lead letters were loose. The Tenterfield RSL sub-Branch approached Queensland Heritage Masonry for a quote to have the condition of the monument assessed and were successful in applying for a CWMF grant to have the assessment undertaken.  A specialist mason from Queensland Heritage Masonry inspected the monument and documented its physical characteristics, materials, and current condition. The condition assessment report included photos of areas of concern on the memorial and provided recommendations for minor cleaning and repairs to the memorial, based on best practice conservation processes.

After acquitting their first grant, the Tenterfield RSL sub-Branch successfully applied for a second CWMF grant to have the physical works recommended in the condition assessment undertaken.  The work undertaken by Queensland Heritage Masonry included carefully cleaning the memorial to remove all organic contamination on its surface using clean water and brushes for moulded and carved elements. A specialist stonemason also reset the memorial’s lead lettering to improve its legibility and reduce water ingress. Cracks and fissures were repaired and colour-matched to the original fabric and hard cement mortar was replaced with soft lime-based mortar. 

The Tenterfield Boer War Memorial and adjacent Memorial Hall are listed as a local heritage item on the Tenterfield Local Environmental Plan 2013. They are important records of the Tenterfield community’s service in major overseas conflicts since 1900 and are a focal point for local commemorations such as Anzac Day.

"The Tenterfield RSL Sub Branch is very proud to be involved in the refurbishment of the Boer War Memorial with the assistance of a community donation by Mr Steve Alford and the grant funding from the NSW Community War Memorials Fund.  This project has ensured that our Tenterfield Military history is preserved for future generations."

— Dave Stewart, President Tenterfield RSL sub-Branch

The Community War Memorials Fund provides grants of up to $10,000 to support the repair, protection and conservation of community war memorials across the state. including specialist heritage advice and physical work.

For more information and to apply, click here.


Project photos

Tenterfield Boer War Memorial 2020

Tenterfield Boer War Memorial in 2019. Photograph by Graham Wilson, NSW War Memorials Register.

Cleaning the sandstone with water2

Cleaning the sandstone with clean water. Photograph supplied by Tenterfield RSL sub-Branch.

Before After Sculpture

Before and after photographs of sculpture. Images supplied by Tenterfield RSL sub-Branch.

Before After Upper portion of memorial

Before and after photographs of the upper portion of the memorial. Images supplied by Tenterfield RSL sub-Branch.

Before After marble column

Before and after photographs of marble columns. Images supplied by Tenterfield RSL sub-Branch.

Before After memorial base

Before and after photographs of memorial base. Images supplied by Tenterfield RSL sub-Branch.