The cenotaph commemorates those who died in the First World War (1914-1918). The design is based on the famous cenotaph memorial in London.
Situated in Memorial Gardens, it comprises two elements: a cenotaph and a stone of remembrance. It was designed by Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens in 1922 and is made from Cornish granite. The memorial was built by Hobson Ltd of Nottingham and was unveiled by the Earl of Derby on 26 November 1922 and dedicated by the Archdeacon of Rochdale.
The cenotaph and stone stand on a broad rectangular dais of three equal steps. The cenotaph, c10m tall, stands on a further six steps. Against the upper plinth rest carved wreaths enclosing the arms of Rochdale. The lower plinth projects four flags – on the south-west side are the Union Flag (left) and White Ensign (right); on the north-east side the RAF Ensign (left) and Red Ensign (right). The flagpoles finish in decorative pinnacles which are encircled by laurel wreaths. At the top is a sculpture of a soldier draped with his coat.
Inscriptions commemorating the fallen of the Second World War were added at a later date.