First World War memorial out of storage after three decades - thanks to help of Great Yarmouth College students
08:00 30 March 2014
A First World War memorial, which has been in storage for three decades, is being conserved to mark the centenary of the conflict – thanks to a local charity and a team of students from Great Yarmouth College.
The five-metre wide wooden plaque displays the names of hundreds of fallen soldiers and the dedication reads: “In Honour of the Old Boys of the British, Nelson and Trafalgar Road Schools”.
Now, under the guidance of Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust students studying basic construction at the college are working to restore this piece of history to its former glory.
At the same time the trust wants to hear from anyone who might have a suitable building in which to permanently display the renovated memorial, along with anyone who knows the history of those named on the plaque.
The plaque is thought to have been removed in the 1980s during remodelling works at what is now St George’s School, in St Peter’s Road. In around 2002, a member of the public contacted the trust to offer up the memorial, which had been stored in a barn.
The trust did not have a large enough space in which to carry out the restoration, so the plaque was put in storage again, until November 2013, when the borough council gave the Cemetery Chapel to the trust to become a conservation workshop.
Since then, as part of the nationally-acclaimed Cemeteries Project, students have been using soapy water, toothbrushes and cloths to clean and restore the memorial, under the supervision of William Wallace, one of the trust’s conservators.
The plaque is in three sections and is constructed with timber side panels and a central bronze panel, each listing the names of former pupils of the three schools, who were killed in the Great War.
The memorial is virtually complete, but has become dirty over the decades and a number of the timber panels are also in need of repair. Since January, the team has so far cleaned the front of the panels and is now working on the back, with the aim of completing the project by the summer.
Councillor Bernard Williamson, the trust’s chairman and Great Yarmouth Borough Council’s cabinet member for transformation and regeneration, said: “The borough lost scores of young men in the First World War. And restoring this memorial is a fitting way to honour their memory and sacrifice, especially as 2014 is the centenary of the outbreak of the conflict.
“All the names are on the trust’s website, and we would love to hear from anyone who knows about these individuals – where they lived, what they did for a living, which regiment they belonged to, and where they died. It would also be great if, before the end of the centenary commemorations, in 2018, we can put it back on display in a suitable building.”
William Wallace, who began as a trust trainee on the Cemeteries Project, said: “It is most appropriate that young people are involved in preserving for future generations a piece of their heritage and the memories of former students.
“The project, which demonstrates the benefits of the trust’s training programmes, also helps to create a much-needed local resource of building conservation skills, as the students are also involved in ongoing conservation work on King Henry’s Tower and some of the historic monuments in the cemeteries.”
Gary Jefferson, director of engineering and construction at Great Yarmouth College, said: “The restoration of this monument is a real honour for our students.
“They have put a huge amount of effort into the Cemeteries Project and this restoration is particularly important given that this year marks the centenary of the start of the Great War.
“They will undertake a research project at the college to support their work at the cemetery, which we are really proud to support and hope we will be able to do so for many years.”
To see the full list of names, visit the trust’s website at www.greatyarmouthpreservationtrust.org.