Sea of poppies helps commemorate war memorial centenary
More than 220 poppies have been put up around Brierley Hill by volunteers as part of plans to commemorate 100 years since the town’s war memorial was put up.
Most of the poppies have been draped in an eye-catching display around the memorial, which has a soldier sitting atop it and is having painstaking work completed to restore it.
The memorial, at the bottom end of Brierley Hill High Street, was officially unveiled on November 12, 1921, by a party of local clergy and civic dignitaries.
Now, 100 years on, the community and volunteers have rallied and worked tirelessly behind the scenes to create a fitting tribute to such an important milestone.
More than 220 individual poppies have been fixed to railings and lamp posts throughout the town. Thanks to months of research from Brierley Hill Community Forum, each poppy has been hand-written with the name of a fallen soldier from the town, his age, when he was killed and where he fell.
A number of groups and volunteers contributed to the poppy-making effort, including Adult Learning at Brierley Hill Neighbourhood Centre, Top Church Training, the Family Solutions team, Harry’s Café and community groups including Spill The Beans and KNWH Kuppa Club.
Councillor Simon Phipps, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, said:
I want to say a huge thank you to each and every person who has given up their time to help create such a stunning cascade of poppies for the Brierley Hill War Memorial, and to the community forum for their months of research.
It’s a really positive example of how much can be achieved when communities come together and show pride and desire to improve the areas where they live and work.
The end result is poignant and moving, and a fitting way to commemorate the centenary of the War Memorial.
Karen Fielder, of Top Church Training, said:
We were overwhelmed with the response not only from our volunteers, service users and group participants, but from the wider community and we can’t thank them all enough.
Each week we saw our numbers increase with other knitting groups merging with our group to help with the cause.
There was a real buzz, a real passion about taking part which to me showed admiration and respect for those who have lost their lives in battle.
One thing that really stood out was how inclusive the project became. We had many people contacting our office asking to become involved.
They were telling us about how lonely and isolated they were feeling from the restraints of their physical disabilities. They told us of the difficulties they had to leave their homes, but they could knit. We posted out the knitting kits and they were able to send their creations back to us.
Tim Sunter, chairman of Brierley Hill Community Forum, said:
I am delighted that our research has been able to be used in such a poignant way.
The community will be coming together on Sunday November 14 to commemorate the fallen. For those who wish to parade they should assemble at 10.10am in Bell Street South ready to move to the memorial at 10.45am. Following the silence at 11am there will be a service inside St Michael’s for those who wish to attend. There will also be an exhibition inside the church about the soldiers whose names appear on the memorial.
I would like to thank all the volunteers who have worked together to make this possible.
The war memorial restoration work – which has been paused and will resume after Remembrance Sunday - is being funded from cash earmarked for Brierley Hill High Street Heritage Action Zone, a partnership between Dudley Council and Historic England. It will see heritage buildings in the town restored to their former glories.
The war memorial work is being undertaken by Midland Conservation and Oliver Architecture.
For more information about the Brierley Hill High Street Heritage Action Zone visit https://www.regeneratingdudley.org.uk/brierley-hill-projects. To find out more about the Grade II listed War Memorial visit: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1423776
Notes to Editors
About High Streets Heritage Action Zones
Historic England is working with local people and partners through grant funding and sharing our skills to help breathe new life into high streets that are rich in heritage and full of promise - unlocking their potential and making them more attractive to residents, businesses, tourists and investors. The High Streets Heritage Action Zones scheme, backed by government funding, aims to help with the recovery of local high streets from regenerating historic buildings to helping to engage local communities through art and cultural projects.
About Historic England
Historic England is the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. It protects, champions and saves the places that define who we are and where we’ve come from as a nation. We care passionately about the stories these places tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists we share our passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all.