Our War Memorials: II-The Great Cities and Some Others
The outstanding fact about the War Memorials set up by the big towns is that no one of them is exactly like another. This is remarkable, because the different forms available are really very few in number. The cenotaph, the memorial hall, the obelisk, arch, colonnade and cross about exhaust the list. Yet in the treatment of these forms so vast a variety and ingenuity has been shown that one could wander from town to town and find in each a wholly individual monument.
To a large extent this is due to the unstinted care and forethought lavished on the preparation of these memorials. In some cases the preparatory planning occupied years. In a few cases it has not yet come to full fruition. It was not merely a matter of collecting public subscriptions and devising a suitable monument. In several cases where the funds allowed or the generosity of a wealthy citizen supplemented them, the actual memorial was only a part of a scheme of civic improvement necessitated by the neglect suffered during the war years. Every town had to face its post-war problems; some found at least a partial solution of them in the Memorial Scheme.
Thus at Norwich, where a total between £150,000 and £160,000 was subscribed, the cost of the monument itself was about £3,000. The balance was handed to the Norfolk and Norwich and the Jenny Lind Hospitals. At Ipswich the " practical " part of the War Memorial is a new wing that has been added on the old military barracks land to the East Suffolk and Ipswich Hospital. This new building has a unique feature in its isolation block on the cubicle principle, intended for those cases which occur in a general hospital and require isolation. Nearly £46,000 was devoted to this purpose.
For some time after the Armistice very great distress, arising from unemployment and heavy taxation, was experienced at Wolverhampton, and it was decided to allocate 10 per cent of the total subscription to the relief of necessitous widows and other dependents of Wolverhampton men who had died for their country, and the balance-excluding the money for the memorial (an obelisk) itself-to a general charitable fund and the provision of children's playing fields. At West Hartlepool the considerable balance left over from the splendid and impressive obelisk went to the erection of sixteen houses and a reading room in Ryehill Gardens. These are known as "The Hartlepools War Memorial Homes and the Crosby Homes" and are available for natives of the two Hartlepools.
The cenotaph in Rickerby Park, Carlisle, makes one memorial with the park itself (90 acres of fine pasture and trees) and a handsome new footbridge built across the river Eden and giving easy access to the park from the centre of the city.
At Colchester improved social amenities have been made possible and an unequalled site for the memorial itself secured by the munificence of the late Viscount Cowdray, who gave the historic Colchester Castle and its lands to the town. The construction of the new "Cowdray Crescent" off the High Street has not only provided an excellent setting for the monument, but has furnished a dignified approach to the park and castle. A' third part of the Colchestei scheme consists of a new memorial block at the Essex County Hospital.
It can be said that Worcester's main memorial is wholly of a utilitarian character. It consists of twelve houses erected in Gheluvelt Park for disabled soldiers and sailors. But there are tablets in cases at the Guildhall containing the names of all the Worcester citizens who served abroad.
Turning now to actual monuments, attention must first be directed to the national monuments erected for Scotland and Wales.
The genesis of the great Scottish National War Memorial is unusually interesting. Nearly a year before the Armistice the Government intimated that after the war only a comparatively small part of Edinburgh Castle would be needed as barracks for troops. It was then decided to utilise the vacant portion partly for the purpose of a national War Memorial. This has involved not merely the building of a shrine, but the complete transformation of the old barracks and the elimination of various mean and unsightly buildings that stood to the north of these. The rectangular block of barracks has become a Gallery of Honour, and the shrine itself has been built out from its north side.
All about the base of the north-west side ot the building clusters the rugged, uneven surface of the living rock, and it is noteworthy that the granite floor of the shrine itself has been broken to allow oi the same element peeping through. The demolitions have uncovered a stretch of rocky ground to the edge of the peak on this side, but north and east of the shrine there is a semicircle of green turf which relieves the austerity.
The memorial was designed and carried out by Sir Robert Lorimer, the famous Scottish architect, in what is called the Scottish baronial style The walls of the shrine, between their tall and handsome buttresses, are built of red and brown rubble stones, roughly fashioned in harmony with the old stones of the existing building. The architectural ornament is particularly simple and bold. Within the building the same characteristics are preserved in the solid construction and round arches; but the interior is enriched by a wealth of historical and symbolic detail in stone, bronze, wood and glass-the work of Mr. Pilkington Jackson, Mrs. Meredith Williams, Dr. Douglus Strachan, and others.
The Hall of Honour is entered from the south through a noble porch; the shrine on the farther side being reached by way of a lofty arch with a very beautiful wrought-iron gate and impressive sculptures in the recesses of its sides. The shrine has seven tall stained-glass windows illustrating the birth of War (the killing of Abel), its overthrow, and its replacement by Peace and Praise. Below each window is a bronze bas-relief, and these panels are continuous all round the interior and illustrate the various types of Scottish soldiers and sailors who fought in the War.
This bronze record is amazingly comprehensive. Not only are all the Scottish regiments here, but also various units of the Imperial forces in which Scotsmen served, the Women's Services, and even the animals and carrier pigeons.
From the heavily ribbed vault is suspended a great and impressive figure of the archangel Michael, the judge and witness of the triumph of righteousness over wrong. On the floor of the shrine below this figure is a steel casket on a solid rectangular pedestal, in which lie written the hundred thousand names of those who gave up their lives. This casket was given by the king and queen, and is embellished with figures of S. Margaret and S. Andrew of Scotland, modelled in iron, together with angels on the sides.
The Hall of Honour is divided into pillared arcades, in every arch of which is a memorial to a Scottish regiment; the Navy and Air Force being represented at the two ends.
The eight windows are of pale glass, enabling one to read the many inscriptions on the walls and the records of the dead on the bronze lecterns in the regimental bays. The Air Force inscription is striking: "I bare you on eagle's wings, and brought you unto myself." Some of the window designs are partly military in character; others symbolise the Four Seasons. Every regiment commemorated in the bays was encouraged to indicate any feature in its story if wished emphasised, and this wish was carried out as far as was consistent with the unity of the whole scheme. Thus the Royal Scots have been able to record a strength of no fewer than 35 battalions and a roll of honour containing the names of 583 officers and 10,630 other ranks. The whole memorial has been described as "a great act of reverence and of love that will hearten generations to come."
The Welsh National War Memorial stands in the central grass plot of the Alexandra Gardens at Cardiff. The monument itself consists of a fountain surrounded by a circular colonnade. The whole is enclosed by a court with a pedestal wall, the floor being sunk 2 feet 3½ inches below the ground level, and approached by five steps. This allows for stone seats for the convenience of visitors who desire to sit and contemplate the memorial in privacy.
The name given to the selected design was "Triodos," a Greek word signifying the meeting of three ways; in this case, the Sea, the Land, and the Air, by which victory was won. In accordance with this conception there are three porches in the colonnade, projecting 8 feet 3 inches beyond it, inscribed as follows: For the sailor, "Dros For de Droes I Farw (Over the sea went he to die)"; for the soldier, "Ger y Ffor yn Gorffwyso (Nigh the trench-resting)"; and for the airman, "Yn y Nwyfre yn Hofran (Grappling in the central blue)." Against the drum of the fountain and opposite each porch are corresponding figures in bronze, each 6 feet 6 inches high; and on the summit above these a great bronze messenger of victory lifting the hilt of his sword.
The latter is in the form of a cross. On the entablature below the figure is inscribed the promise, "In hoc signo vinces (In this sign thou shalt conquer)." At the base of the Victory are three bronze dolphins, and at the bases of the warrior figures three lions' heads, from the mouths of which the fountain plays into three separate basins forming a trefoil, the lowest basin being 20 feet in diameter and one foot below the floor level of the enclosed court.
Externally, the entablature of the colonnade between the porches is inscribed in bold, incised lettering, "I Feibion Cymru A Roddes Eu Bywyd Dros Eu Gwlad Yn Rhyfel, 1914-1918 (To the sons of Wales who gave their lives for their Country in the War, 1914-1918)"; and the unbroken cornice within bears an impressive English inscription composed by Sir Henry Newbolt: "Remember here in Peace those who in Tumult of War by Sea, on Land, in Air, for Us and for Our Victory Endured unto Death."
The outside diameter of the colonnade is 45 feet 9 inches, and its height is 36 feet 3½ inches from the enclosed court. Its plain circular columns are crowned by Corinthian capitals, and the whole is built of Portland stone, the dim whiteness of which enhances the simplicity and classic beauty of a temple to the dead that is likewise a place of remembrance and meditation for the living. The designer was Mr. J. N. Compton, while Mr. A. Bertram Pegram was responsible for the bronzes and Mr. W. D. Gough for the stonework.
The list of local as opposed to national memorials is headed, so far as architectural importance is concerned, by the striking examples of those at Birmingham and Loughborough.
The city of Birmingham sent more than 150,000 men and women to the War. Thirty-five thousand were wounded. Twelve thousand three hundred and twenty sacrificed their lives. The Birmingham Hall of Memory has been set up as "a temple of tender memory " of those who are gone.
It is an octagonal shrine in the Roman-Doric style, 35 feet wide, with a main entrance of outer and inner bronze doors, facing Broad Street. Built of Portland stone upon a deep Cornish granite base, the main structure rises from a podium or platform, at the four corners of which are four statues in bronze, larger than life size, symbolising the Navy, the Army, the Air Force, and the women's services. The summit is a dome lighted by a yellow and white glass window.
Within the flooring is of vari-tinted marble. In the centre stands a sarcophagus-shaped shrine (of Siena marble), upon which rests a glass and bronze casket containing a long illuminated roll of honour. The latter was designed and painted by Mr. Sidney H. Meteyard, and its finely decorated title page bears this touching inscription in letters of gold: "There was None that gave Them an ill word, for They feared God greatly... So They passed over, and all the Trumpets sounded for Them on the Other Side."
The whole building and lay-out was designed and supervised by Messrs. S. N. Cooke and W. Norman Twist, and the cost was met entirely by voluntary contributions
The tower and carillon at Loughborough is in several respects the most unique war monument in England. By the carillon it is directly associated with Belgium, the historic home of bell music; indeed, the Chevalier Jef Denyn, the famous carillonneur of Malines, was the first to play the Lough-borough carillon after the opening of the tower in 1923, and in 1924 several recitals were given by another Belgian expert, M. Anton Brees, of Antwerp; while the present Loughborough carillonneurs were trained at the Malines Carillon School. Secondly, the craft of bell-founding has been peculiarly the local industry of Loughborough since the middle of last century, when the town succeeded Leicester as the bell-founding centre of the county. "Great Paul," at S. Paul's, London, the largest bell in England, weighing 16¾ tons, was cast at the Loughborough foundry in 1881.
The building of the tower was almost entirely the work of local firms with local materials. It stands in the Queen's Park, and on two sides is an open square of grass that accommodates thousands of people at the memorial services and carillon recitals. It is built on a deep concrete foundation, the base, of Portland stone, being 26 feet square and 16 feet high, and the full height of the tower from the ground to the top of the cross at the summit being 151 feet.
From the entrance floor the main gallery is reached by a spiral staircase of concrete. The great steel frame containing the 47 bells of the carillon is half in the main gallery and half in the chamber below, and the clavier or keyboard from which the carillon is played is just beneath. In the main gallery, where two tiers of the smaller bells are housed, there are openings through which their sound passes direct to the outer air; whereas the other two tiers of larger and more powerful bells are more closely enclosed, this arrangement being designed to equalise the effect of the instrument as a whole and prevent the larger bells from overwhelming the smaller.
Built to the design of Mr. Walter Tapper, F.R.I.B.A., this memorial cost £20,000, a considerable portion of which amount was raised by organized weekly collections in the town's industrial works and factories.
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