On August 1st representatives from civic societies, local councils, the Royal British Legion and local history groups joined together in Derby to find out how the First World War Memorials Programme and its volunteers have has been making a positive impact on the region’s war memorials.
In addition to hearing from the programme partners Civic Voice, Historic England, Imperial War Museums and War Memorials Trust, who provided the background to the programme and specific examples of their work, delegates also heard from a civic society that surveyed over 70 war memorials in their town, a recipient of grant funding, and a district council that carried out a project to record, survey and apply to list all the memorials in the district.
Diane Wells, representing Tamworth and District Civic Society, spoke of her research project for Amington War Memorial, which was erected as early as 1917 and which, for that reason, had initially caught her attention. Dedicated to ‘The Fallen Heroes of Amington’ the war memorial did not include the names of those individuals, even though there were parts of the stone memorial where plaques were obviously meant to have been attached. With Heritage Lottery funding the project set about researching the 21 soldiers from the area, with the help of a local group of scouts, and their names were added to the base of the memorial. The project also included refurbishment of the area immediately surrounding the memorial allowing safer access to it. Not content with stopping there, Diane also co-ordinated a small group of volunteers who attended a training workshop to find out how to carry out condition surveys for war memorials. The group spent a number of months locating, visiting and recording the condition of over 70 memorials in Tamworth and the surrounding area and adding the information to War Memorials Online. Thanks to their work there is now a much greater understanding of the district’s war memorial heritage, ensuring the people named on the crosses, plaques, windows etc will not be forgotten.
David Sneath gave a detailed account of the project in which he was involved to repair the Mercian Memorial at Crich, Derbyshire. with funding from War Memorials Trust. The tower was completed in 1923 with later additions in 1934. It was designed by Lt Col A. W. Brewill to commemorate the fallen soldiers of the Sherwood Foresters (Nottingham and Derbyshire Regiment).
In 2016 a grant of £8,640 was awarded through the War Memorials Trust Grants Scheme towards professional advice for a structural survey, concrete analysis and production of a draft Specification and Schedule of Repairs by a conservation accredited architect. This required scaffolding to the concrete dome and the production of core samples for chemical analysis.
In 2017 a grant of £67,830 was awarded for full scaffolding, repairs to the cracked concrete dome, removal of materials from previous repairs and application of appropriate products to repair the cracks and protect from water penetration, repairs to support columns and cills, repointing the whole tower with lime mortar, staining of doors, repairs and repainting of gates and railings, repairs to the plinth and paving at the base and related professional fees.
David finished by stressing the importance of getting expert advice from organisations such as War Memorials Trust and Historic England to ensure works were carried out using the correct methods and materials.
Finally, we heard from Michael Tagg, Conservation Officer at Bassetlaw District Council. With the help of his colleagues, research has been carried out for each of the district’s 38 external war memorials to find out details of when they were first built and unveiled, who the designer/architect was and details of the unveiling ceremony. The condition of the memorials was also recorded. Thankfully, just three were found to be in need of conservation work. With information and photographs from research and site visits, the team applied to Historic England for 19 memorials to be awarded listed status, giving them greater protection.
The programme has run similar events in four of England’s regions since February. In that time we’ve heard from a number of volunteers who have been involved in the programme and the fantastic contribution they have made to ensure the future of the nation’s war memorials.
“An excellent day with very good presentations and information, as well as several good networking contacts.”
Don’t miss your chance to hear about what’s been happening in your local area and discuss how your community can continue to commemorate the fallen beyond the end of the First World War centenary. You can register to attend the following events below.