A small memorial service was held in the Wembdon Road Cemetery on Friday 13 July to rededicate the memorial of Cyril Ricks (1890-1912), a victim of the sinking of the Titanic. The memorial had been toppled and broken, but was repaired through the generosity of Tamlyns Chartered Surveyors.
Tamlyns, Bridgwater's oldest business, are celebrating 140 years since their foundation in 1878. To publicly mark this occasion, one of their projects is to honour one of their ancestors. Tamlyns paid for the restoration of Cyril's memorial, as he was the brother-in-law to the company's director at the time, W. H. Tamlyn.
Cyril was born in Bridgwater and his father ran the George Hotel in George Street. Cyril worked as a shopkeeper on luxury liners and signed up to work on board the S.S. Titanic in April 1912.
When that famous and doomed ship collided with an iceberg, Cyril was serving first-class customers. He and his fellow shopkeepers were some of the last people on the deck of the stricken vessel. Together they jumped overboard as the Titanic made its final plunge into the water. While his friends survived, Cyril was knocked unconscious by falling debris, and he drowned in the icy waters of the Atlantic.
Here in Bridgwater, his name was added to a small memorial in the Wembdon Road Cemetery, which marked the burial place of some of his siblings. In recent years this memorial had been forgotten about and its cross toppled over and broken. Moved by Cyril's story, and by the efforts of the Friends of the Wembdon Road Cemetery to restore the neglected burial ground, Tamlyns stepped forward to pay for the memorial's repair. The cross has been pinned back into place and the whole memorial fully restored and cleaned, so it should stand for at least another hundred years in Cyril's memory. The work was carried out by Fine Memorials of Bridgwater.
Dr. Miles Kerr-Peterson, chairman of the Friends of the Cemetery, remarked 'we're delighted that Tamlyns have generously stepped forward to repair this memorial to one of Bridgwater's lost sons. It's a credit to the town that their company are keen to honour their history and do something for the town's benefit'. James Venton from Tamlyns said 'When the Friends of Wembdon Road Cemetery contacted us and told us about Cyrils story, and his close family links to Tamlyns, we felt that it was only right that as a company we contributed towards safeguarding Cyrils memory'.
The small service to rededicate the memorial was attended by representatives of Tamlyns and the Friends, Cllr Gill Slocombe representing the Ward and Sedgemoor District Council, and the Mayor of Bridgwater, Diogo Rodrigues, and Brian Smedley, representing the Town Council.
The memorial was blessed by Rev. Trish Ollive, the Vicar of St Mary's, who recited the same prayers and Rosary as performed by Fr. Thomas Byles that night on the deck of the Titanic as the ship made its final plunge. Those attending remarked how moving it was to think that these would have been heard by Cyril in the moments before his untimely death.