City Hall exhibition marks centenary of First World War
City Hall is marking the First World War centenary with a new photographic exhibition that offers a powerful reminder of the human cost of war and the impact it had on the lives of Londoners.
An estimated 124,000 died in the Great War and 'Exploring London's First World War Memorials' highlights some of the thousands of memorials across the capital that were created to honour the fallen.
The exhibition - organised by the Mayor of London with help from the War Memorials Trust, English Heritage and others - features new images taken by London photographer James O. Jenkins. It provides an insight into the role of war memorials in local communities who wanted to honour those who died while serving their country, many of whom were buried in cemeteries near the battlefields where they fell, or have no known grave.
Although most people will be familiar with major London memorials such as the Cenotaph in Whitehall, they may be less aware of local war memorials that can be found in every borough. Many were created after the First World War, and were often paid for by public subscription or the collective efforts of local communities, work places, schools, churches, town councils and other institutions. Memorials took many different forms including monuments, crosses, obelisks, sculptures, plaques, paintings, fountains, buildings and landscape features. Some were designed by leading architects and artists. They are all an important part of our national heritage and many remain a focus for annual acts of remembrance.
The exhibition remembers the 1065 former staff and three members of the London County Council (the London-wide authority at the time), amongst which were 27 members of the London Fire Brigade (plaque at London Fire Brigade HQ) and 334 Tramways workers (plaque at Finchley depot) who lost their lives between 1914-18. The exhibition also remembers the 387 officers from the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police, (memorials for both services at Hendon Police Training College).
Also featured are memorials at Paddington and Kings Cross stations which respectively remember 2,524 men of the Great Western Railway and 937 men of the Great Northern Railway.
The redeveloped Kings Cross station is home to a restored memorial, the design of which echoes the 11 soldiers depicted in John Singer Sargent’s 1919 painting ‘Gassed’. In both cases the memorials were further dedicated to fallen colleagues following the Second World War.
Other memorials featured include St Botolph without Bishopsgate church, thought to be the oldest First World War memorial in England. The memorial at Sutton House in Hackney is the result of a bequest which enabled the National Trust to purchase the property, whilst the memorial clock tower in Stockwell includes the names of 574 men, all of who lived within half a mile.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “The First World War changed the way people looked at life forever. Every Londoner felt its effect, every London borough waved off brave young men who were never to return, whilst those left behind had war brought to them when air raids began. This exhibition is a reminder that the First World War affected every street, every community in London. Each year the Cenotaph becomes the focus for the National Service of Remembrance, but I urge Londoners to let this exhibition lead them to explore their local memorials, to ensure that this greatest sacrifice is never forgotten.”
In addition to the exhibition, the Mayor of London and London Assembly will host an Act of Remembrance on Monday 4 August to give staff the opportunity to reflect upon the 100 years since Britain joined the war and to remember Londoners that lost their lives. Representatives from the Metropolitan Police Service, London Fire Brigade, and the Royal British Legion will also gather along with organisations that contributed to the exhibition.
Chairman of the London Assembly Roger Evans said: “We live in a city with a rapidly changing and increasing population, but the memory of our predecessors should not fade. I am pleased to host this 100 year anniversary ceremony and remember the 1,067 London County Council members and staff who died on active service during the First World War and reflect on the sacrifices many Londoners made throughout the war.”
The Mayor of London is also supporting LIGHTS OUT, a national initiative inviting everyone in the UK to turn off their lights from 10pm to 11pm on 4 August, leaving on a single light or candle for a shared moment of reflection. Lights at City Hall will be switched off, joining other key buildings, including Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament and the advertising screens at Piccadilly Circus.
The Mayor has, with the 14-18 NOW cultural programme, also co-commissioned spectra by Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda, a beam of light projected into the night sky, which can be seen in Victoria Tower Gardens from dusk to dawn on 4-11 August. For more information about spectra go to the Artangel website: www.artangel.org.uk//projects/2014/spectra/about_the_project/spectra.
ENDS Notes to editors 1. 'Exploring London's First World War Memorials' has been produced by the Greater London Authority, featuring photography by James O. Jenkins. It runs from Monday 4 August to Friday 12 September 2014. Entry is free. www.london.gov.uk/events. 2. Thanks to the following organisations for their help: War Memorials Trust; English Heritage; Imperial War Museum; County Hall; Network Rail; Peabody Estates; Newham Archives & Local History Library; Metropolitan Police Service; Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archive, National Trust; Featherstone Primary School; Greenwich Heritage Centre; All Saints Church, Fulham; St Botolph's Church, Bishopsgate; London Borough of Southwark; London Borough of Lambeth; London Borough of Barnet; Memorial Gates Trust; Prudential Group. 3. War Memorials Trust is a registered charity that works to protect and conserve the UK’s war memorials and promote a greater understanding of their historical and cultural significance. The exhibition was produced with their help. www.warmemorials.org 4. English Heritage works in partnership with other agencies, to designate war memorials for listing, administer grants, give conservation advice, and look after a number of outstanding memorials, such as the Cenotaph on Whitehall. Only a small number, around 1,300 free-standing ones, are currently listed. During the Centenary period 2014-2018, English Heritage is on a mission to list up to 500 war memorials each year. They are the organisers of the war memorials exhibition 'We Will Remember Them', which runs from 16 July to 30 November 2014 at the Quadriga Gallery, Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner. This exhibition focuses on the six London First World War memorials cared for by English Heritage including the Cenotaph and the Machine Gun Corps memorial. For more information about the exhibition go to http://bit.ly/1i4Oyh6. 5. 14-18 NOW is a major cultural programme taking place across the United Kingdom to mark the centenary of the First World War, which invites contemporary artists from the UK and around the world to explore the resonance of the First World War today. Working with cultural organisations across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, 14-18 NOW commissions large-scale special projects. These are selected to encourage people from every community to reflect on how the First World War has shaped today's world and our attitudes to conflict now. The programme will run for three years; 2014, 2016 and 2018. 14-18 NOW is an independent programme hosted within Imperial War Museums and receives public funding from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England. www.1418now.org.uk 6. Everyone in the UK is invited to take part in LIGHTS OUT by turning off their lights from 10pm to 11pm on 4 August, leaving on a single light or candle for a shared moment of reflection. People can take part in whatever way they choose, marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War either individually or by attending one of the many events being organised around the country for a collective experience. www.1418now.org.uk/lights-out MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Press information is available from Lucy Bishop on 020 7983 4754 / Ben McKnight on 020 7983 4071 or email [email protected] (press only - not for publication). PUBLIC/NON-MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Call the Public Liaison Unit at the Greater London Authority on 020 7983 4100 DUTY PRESS OFFICER: For out-of-hours media enquiries, please call 020 7983 4000