Centenary of the Battle of the Somme Commemoration 1st July 2016

Union JackThere is a lot happening in Sutton to mark the centenary of the First World War. Sutton Council’s World War One Steering Group meet regularly to decide ways the borough should remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice all those years ago.

July 1 2016 marks the hundredth anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. July 1 1916 was the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army – on the first day of the Somme Offensive alone the British Army suffered over 60,000 casualties.

Groups from across the borough are combining to deliver a unique act of remembrance for those that died in the Somme Offensive. In the days running up to Friday July 1 2016 and on the day itself a range of commemoration events will acknowledge the sacrifice of those from across the borough and nationwide who died or were injured.

At 8pm on Friday 1 July 2016 an act of remembrance organised by Carshalton and Wallington Royal British Legion will take place at Carshalton War Memorial. The event begins at 8pm and is open to ex-service personnel and the public. During this event the church bells at All Saints, Carshalton, will ring half muffled and these will be joined by bells from St Dunstan’s Cheam which will also ring half muffled in honour of fallen and stricken soldiers. The bells of All Saints, Benhilton, will already have signalled this event by earlier in the week ringing their own tribute.

The event is open to the ex-service personnel and the public. The Mayor and other local dignitaries and members of the Royal British Legion will pay tribute with a short act of remembrance at 8pm. During this event the church bells at All Saints, Carshalton, will ring half muffled and these will be joined by bells from St Dunstan’s Cheam which will also ring half muffled in honour of the fallen and stricken soldiers.

The bells of All Saints, Benhilton, will signal the commemoration by ringing their own tribute. As darkness descends attention will turn to the facia of St. Helier Hospital where the borough’s unique collection of glass plate images of soldiers who left from this area to go to war will be projected. The projection will start at 9.30pm and will run for one hour. Photographer David Knights-Whittome’s shop was at 18 High St, Sutton and the complete Past On Glass collection can be viewed by clicking here.

A special exhibition featuring works by local artists will be on display at Carshalton’s Honeywood Museum from Wednesday 22 June honouring the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice on the fields of Picardy a century ago. Acid Drop Copse was a wood in the battlefields of the Somme, destroyed by the war and named by the soldiers after the boiled sweet they knew from home. The art collection was inspired by this name and, like the confection, is a complex mixture of bitter and sweet surprises, promising to make for a diverse and thought-provoking exhibition. Sculpture, metal casting, encaustic art, oil painting, print-making, ceramics, floristry, collage, and contemporary jewellery are all represented in this extensive and thought-provoking collection. Learn more about this exhibition on the Honeywood Museum website here.

Remembrance Sunday

There was the annual Remembrance Sunday event this mornng at Carshalton War Memorial, and of course this is held traditionally “at the 11th hour, on the 11th day, of the 11th month…”.

Local councillors from all the three party groups on Sutton Council were in attendance and a memorial poppy wreath was laid on behalf of the councillors. 

There was a very large crowd taking part in the open air service, admirably led by the Rector of Carshalton, Dr. John Thewlis, who is Rector at All Saints’ Church, the main Church of England parish church for central Carshalton.  (The church itself is a magnificent piece of architecture, particularly its interior.)

Carshalton's first World War Memorial

There are plans by Sutton Council to add a new Second World War Memorial in the War Memorial Gardens off Honeywood Walk, Carshalton Ponds, in the vicinity of the existing First World War memorial.

These plans, drawn up by Cllr. Hamish Pollock, were discussed on site with a senior officer from English Heritage on Thursday, 8th November together with Sutton Council’s chief planning officers and two local councillors Jill Whitehead and Hamish Pollock.

Further discussions are due to take place soon with the Royal British Legion about these plans as well as other interested parties including local military historians.

More in a future posting….

Carshalton War Memorial Update

The working party for the Carshalton War Memorial have recently been looking at ways of adapting the existing War Memorial at Carshalton Ponds in order to add the names of the 300-400 victims of the World War Two on to the blank panels of the existing war memorial which currently only displays the names of the fallen from World War One. 

Carshalton War Memorial: The Existing Stone Panels with WW1 victims' Names Inscribed

Cllr. Hamish Pollock has prepared a detailed drawing (extract of the proposal drawing is as attached link) which was circulated to the community representatives and councillors present at the recent meeting of the working party. 

The complete drawing that is being priced at present shows the War Memorial “As Existing” and “As Proposed”.  It is proposed that the proposal drawings are fully costed out and that, if the scheme is approved by the Carshalton & Clockhouse Local Committee, and then the Government officials (and English Heritage etc.) responsible for such matters, then the works could proceed at a cost of about £40,000 to inscribe by carving into the stone panels the 350-400  names of the fallen. 

The Royal British Legion are preparing the finalised list of the WW2 victims for inscription.

CARSH 002 extract

It is felt that this proposal to adapt the existing memorial rather than building a new one, is in close keeping with the local Conservation Area of Carshalton Village.  It is noted that the existing memorial has been adapted over the years with inscriptions for the years of both World Wars being added along with plaques for a small number of the fallen.

Carshalton’s World War II Memorial

Carshalton War Memorial by the Ponds

Cllr. Hamish Pollock reports: “The Carshalton & Clockhouse Local Committee which I chair held its 2nd working party meeting in as many months to discuss the WW2 memorial(s) recently. It became clear to all those present that the WW2 memorial is becoming virtually impossible to achieve in the original format that was envisaged by the local committee of early 2010, namely the fallen of WW2 inscribed individually in a manner to match/resemble that of the existing WW1 memorial.

The working party as recently constituted includes 2 representatives from the local branch of the Royal British Legion, officers from the Sutton Council’s archives (Kath Shawcross who has special responsibility for war memorials), planning consultants (Eimear Murphy/Paul Barker) and construction & property (Paul Algeo and colleagues), and interested persons including ex-Councillor John Dodwell and Andrew Arnold, historian as well as Sam Barker, local committee co-ordinator and chair and vice chair of the committee.  The Carshalton Society’s representative was instrumental in the restoration of the Hermitage at Carshalton House (St. Philomena’s School) opened last year by myself as Deputy Mayor.

Anticipated total costs of the project to have inscribed names now in stone (to match the rededicated WW1 memorial) have increased from the original budget figure of £35K to around £80K including fees for consultants and officer time.

This increase in costs is partly owing to the need for Portland stone to be used as a material, with stone inscriptions rather than bronze plaques, and to follow a design that is required in keeping with the Carshalton Conservation Area and Listed Building status of the existing memorial.  The extent of the memorial(s) would have to increase if we are to accommodate a significant increase in the number of names of the fallen that have been uncovered recently (see below).

The local committee will have to decide over coming weeks to:-

a)     Carry on with the project as originally envisaged. Possibly with external funding. This would mean possibly raising funds and also voting additional funds of the order to a combined figure of £45K out of Carshalton & Clockhouse local committee’s limited public realm funds –possibly taking up part of the 2012-13 allocation and a part even of 2013-14’s!  (The significance of 2014 being a centenary of the outbreak WW1 is of course looming up on us all!)

Or (if permitted by the Council’s current rules of its public realm spending) some or all of the following options:-

b)     Provide an embellishment to the existing WW1 stone memorial to further commemorate the fallen of WW2 – say by additional inscriptions. The Royal British Legion have been asked to come up with suggestions as to how this might be done. We think that a public subscription may be the answer to the massive shortfall of funds.

c)      A new Book of Remembrance in bound leather binding/vellum etc. in a new glass case to be housed in the new Westcroft Centre/Carshalton Library to include all the 450 or so names of the fallen (which has risen from 270 in the current book of remembrance, to about 450 names if one includes all the names of the fallen that have discovered by the local historian Andrew Arnold).

d)     An interactive web page on the council’s web site (that is currently being revamped) for all WW1 and WW2 fallen from Carshalton.  This could show photographs and military backgrounds to the fallen men and women for instance, far more than could ever be covered by a stone inscription.

We would be very interested to hear from local residents and relatives of the fallen of the parish of Carshalton.