Memorial garden mystery solved thanks to Shropshire Star readers

A riddle of an overgrown memorial garden in the unlikely setting of a Telford industrial estate has been solved thanks to Star readers.

A stone dog next to a plaque reading ‘In Loving Memory, Andrew Lineton.’
A stone dog next to a plaque reading ‘In Loving Memory, Andrew Lineton.’

Julia Prior, who lives near Shifnal, chanced upon the area in the shadow of a giant factory while out walking in Halesfield a few months ago and was curious to know the story behind it.

It includes various “in loving memory” plaques commemorating named people as well as features such as a bird bath, a little paved path, a large wooden bird, and a stone dog statue.

Since her original discovery, spreading undergrowth and vegetation has obscured much of the area.

Feedback to Julia’s appeal for information through the Star has come up with the answer, with the most straightforward explanation being the correct one – that it commemorates people who worked at the nearby, and now closed, factory who passed on.

A rapid clue was responses by some readers to say that one of the people commemorated on one of the plaques, Andrew Lineton, had tragically died in a house fire in Brookside, along with his six-year-old daughter, in 2011. He had been an employee at the Fruit of the Loom plant at Halesfield for five years.

This wooden thanksgiving turkey was a tribute to the American boss.

But the clincher was information from a former Fruit of the Loom employee, who preferred not to be named, who emailed in: “Hopefully, someone has shed light on the mystery of the Halesfield memorial garden, but if not, I can.

“I worked at Fruit of the Loom and the memorial garden was a tribute to the staff who worked there and sadly passed away. To confirm, it is – was – only a memorial garden and no one’s ashes were put there.

“The wooden bird is a thanksgiving turkey and was a tribute to Fruit of the Loom’s president and CEO, American, Rick Medlin.

“The lady in question in your piece, Maz Smith, was our receptionist and was a lovely lady who sadly passed away far too early.

“The memorial garden was set up by Human Resources and also had a bench where people could sit and reflect in a peaceful spot.”

We’ve passed all the information on to Julia.

“Wow! That’s amazing and quite a quick response. Thank you,” she said.

Fruit of the Loom, which became a major distribution centre, closed four years ago, with the distinctive building now turned to alternative uses.

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