The Kyneton Cenotaph was unveiled on Tuesday, 1st March 1927 by Lieut-Col the Right Hon. Arthur Herbert Tennyson Baron Somers, K.G.M.G., D.S.O, M.M., Governor of Victoria. The idea of a memorial began in December 1917 when Cr Fred Begg, President of Kyneton Shire Council, offered a donation of £25 to the Kyneton Reinforcement Referendum Council to form the nucleus of a fund to erect a suitable memorial to those who had enlisted from the Kyneton Shire and district. On 13 December a motion was passed at a Council Meeting to establish such a fund and an executive committee be formed to carry out the decision. In the meantime the Shire Council had decided to have an honour roll of all those who had enlisted from the district frescoed on the wall of the entrance to the shire building. As a result, the Citizen’s Memorial automatically became a memorial to the fallen.
At a meeting of subscribers held on July 21st 1920 three suggestions for the form of the memorial were considered: a stone monument, an honour avenue,( finished with a memorial cairn) or a memorial arch at the entrance to the Botanical Gardens.
The monument was decided upon to be built on the Mechanics Institute site. Competitive designs were called for, with the winner being Mr Stewart L.Thomson of Melbourne for his simple and dignified design. Foundation works began in April 1922.
The Cenotaph is made of local bluestone finely rubbed. The base of the monument has been inserted with cast bronze panels with the names of the 181 fallen soldiers and one nurse who died on service. On two sides of the shaft are affixed pairs of swords in bronze with bronze sockets for inserting four flags on special occasions. The total height of the monument is approximately 27ft (about 8m) and 60 tons of stone were used in its construction. Since its construction, 22 more names have been added to the memorial to commemorate those men who died in World War II. There is also a plaque on the rear of the Cenotaph to honour those who died in all conflicts and peacekeeping operations in which Australians have been involved.
At the conclusion of his address, Lord Somers said he was about to unveil the memorial and he would ask the local residents, as they gazed upon it, to try and realise all that it meant and to try and engender in their hearts love and reverence for those in whose memory it had been erected. He then unfastened the rope and the flag fell, unveiling the memorial. Then turning to Cr. Young, President of the Shire, His Excellency said: “Mr President it is my proud privilege to hand over to you, as representing the shire, this memorial to be held in trust for the people of the district.”
Research and text by Kyneton Historical Society. (Edited)