Trust plans tribute to lost merchant seamen but details kept secret
Published Date: 31 March 2010
WHEN built it will be an iconic national memorial to 6,500 lost merchant seaman – but exactly what it will look like is a closely guarded secret.The Merchant Navy Memorial Trust has applied for permission to erect "a memorial of national importance" near Tower Place, at The Shore.
All going well, the £100,000 structure will be unveiled in November. However, the Trust has called for "a degree of secrecy and confidentiality" prior to the official publication of the plans and the launch of a public appeal next month to raise the required cash. The memorial is the brainchild of Professor Gordon Milne, 74, a retired company director from Kingsknowe whose family has a long association with the merchant navy.
He said: "The memorial itself will cost £100,000, funded largely by substantial private donations from benefactors who wish to remain anonymous, but we hope to raise around a quarter-of-a-million pounds through our public appeal for various projects associated with memory of the merchant seamen.
"There are precious few memorials to these brave men in Britain. There is the Tower Hill Memorial in London which commemorates the sailors of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets during the wars, and a memorial to the Arctic convoys recently unveiled in the Orkneys, but there is nothing to mark the loss of the 6,500 Scottish merchant seamen who died in the first and second world wars, the Falklands War and other disasters."
The drawings accompanying the plans show a plinth 4.5 metres high with a cloud obscuring the secret bronze statue at the top.
A series of bronze reliefs will also be attached to the plinth, but the nature of these are also secret.
The works are being designed by renowned Edinburgh sculptor Jill Watson who created the red lion above the door of the Queen's Gallery at Holyrood House.
She also recently completed a series of sculptures in the Borders commemorating the 125th anniversary of the 1881 Eyemouth fishing disaster.
The Trust's directors include John Menzies chairman William Thomson, heir to the company that ran Leith's famous Ben Line vessels which lost 18 ships during the Second World War alone. The directors also include Rear Admiral Roger Lockwood, chief executive of the Royal Lighthouse Board and vice-patron for Scotland of the War Memorials Trust.
The Eyemouth sculpture by Jill Watson can be seen on Adam Browns' "Scottish Monuments, Memorials and Architectural Sculpture" site - click this link for the page for the Eyemouth, Berwickshire 1881 Fishing Disaster