Monday, 6 February 2012

All that's shiny on a war memorial isn't bronze...

A recent report in the Linlithgow Gazette has highlighted another shocking case of metal theft. Or has it?

The newspaper photograph shows that something is clearly missing at the top of the Blackness War Memorial. A closer inspection of the Blackness thread on the Scottish War Memorial Project shows that in 2008 what was there was a slab of dark grey granite and not a bronze plaque.

More information on the SWMP tells us that what was there before the slab. 'The Scotsman' of Wednesday 27th December 1922 reported on the memorial's unveiling:

BLACKNESS.—The memorial to the men of Blackness district takes the form of a clock tower, built of Rubislaw granite...The cost of the memorial was £200, which was raised by voluntary effort.

So no bronze plaque then. The fact that no-one knew that the hole at the top of the memorial used to be a clock suggest that it was replaced quite some time ago. What a shame that Blackness couldn't maintain an integral part of its memorial. The reasons for the clock's removal may now be lost in the mists of time but hopefully when the unsightly gap is filled on the Blackness memorial they can find something more suitable than a plain grey slab? Perhaps this is a perfect opportunity for something decorative to be added? Perhaps that is already happening and no-one told the local councillor?

Blackness has lost its clock but there is another Scottish village which still has a war memorial clock tower and is in very serious danger of losing it. The Parish of Clyne War Memorial in Brora, Sutherland has chimed for nearly ninety years but age has taken its toll. The clock mechanism and the tower it sits in, are both in urgent need of renovation. The local authority does not have the funds to repair it so locals are looking into setting up a Friends of Clyne War Memorial group to help find the funds to save their memorial. You can visit their Facebook page here to lend your support.

Perhaps this recent case at Blackness highlights the need for a proper database on Scottish war memorials which could easily have shown that no bronze was stolen. There is the Scottish War Memorials Project but it is an unfunded and voluntarily run database. Should that data be taken on by a national body? (And by national I mean Scotland not UK). The UK National Inventory of War Memorials listing of Blackness does not mention any metal and there are no photographs so it really wouldn't have been much use here. Do we need a SIWM based on SWMP data with locations and photographs there for the taking...

As always we'd welcome your comments on anything discussed above.

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