Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Light fantastic for Navy tribute

We've blogged about the Merchant Navy memorial in Leith before, and it seems that it has proven to be a popular memorial, receiving up to 100 visitors a day.

This article from The Scotsman discusses a proposal for the memorial to be lit at night.

It was created to stand as a tribute to the thousands of merchant seamen who gave their lives in British conflicts.

The Merchant Navy Memorial on the shore at Leith has since become a shrine to visitors from around the world.

In fact, the bronze statue is so popular that a planning application has been lodged to light it up at night in response to demand.

The memorial was opened by HRH The Princess Royal, patron of the Merchant Navy Memorial Trust, in November last year and since then has seen close to 100 visitors a day.

The nearby Malmaison Hotel reported that guests often asked why it was not lit up, so the trust has agreed to fix a spotlight to the roof of the hotel that will make sure the memorial can be seen 24 hours a day.The light is to be fixed to a part of the roof which will make it "invisible" yet will create a dramatic effect in illuminating the statue below.

Artist Jill Watson, who designed and created the memorial, has been closely consulted about the floodlighting and is said to be thrilled at the tests.

She said: "I am delighted that the memorial is to be floodlit. It will make the scenes around the column even more dramatic. Sculpture comes alive with light.

"And it means that visitors to the area will be able to see the monument in the evening, during the winter months."

Gordon Milne, the founder of the Merchant Navy Memorial Trust (Scotland), said: "The memorial has been far more popular than we ever imagined, and there have been people coming from all over the world to see it.

"It has been far beyond above our expectations, and it is perhaps because so many people come to Leith to find out about the maritime history, but there is not much there to visit.

"People from all over the world have visited it, and many of them have seen it as a very personal experience, a place to remember loved ones who were lost in conflict at sea.

"The management at the Malmaison said that a lot of people had asked why it wasn't lit up at night. We have taken that on board and come up with a design that will see it lit up in a very special way.

"We did a test of the light a few weeks ago and the effect was very dramatic, very striking, and it really shows the statue in all of it's glory."

Mr Milne said it was hoped the floodlighting would be put in place within the next few weeks after an agreement was reached with Malmaison.

The £100,000 memorial was put up to mark the loss of the 6500 Scottish merchant seamen, who died in the first and second world wars, the Falklands War and other disasters.

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