Architect’s delight at monument listing

THE architect behind a Great Yarmouth memorial dedicated to war heroes has spoken of his thrill at finding out the monument had been listed.

Pat Page, 79, discovered when reading last week’s Mercury that the tribute to Far East Prisoners of War (FEPOW) memorial on the seafront he had been involved in designing had been made a grade II building.

The Yarmouth man said: “It took my breath away when I found out. I mean, how many living architects get to see their designs listed? I was like a dog with two tails.”

Pat was fresh out of training and working at HR Lister architects on King Street when he was first given the intimidating brief in 1956.

“I was buzzing with ideas having finished my first set of exams, and it was a great honour to be given the chance to do something like that.”

But it was by working alongside those who knew best how to pay tribute to their fallen friends that he was able to make something that stood the test of time.

His boss Jim Lister told him that some of those who had survived harrowing ordeal of the Japanese second world war prison camps would be along to give him advice on what was required.

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“They were a formidable group, and four of them came into our office and knew exactly what they wanted. They had gone through hell and they had such camaraderie between them.

“It had to be something simple that would stay in people’s minds, and they couldn’t have picked a better spot. It was daunting though, because it had to be imposing without sticking out like a sore thumb.”

Together, they drew up plans for a the memorial, which is one of only 13 in Britain to take the form of a clock tower.

Using tracing paper and going through redesign after redesign, Pat worked intensely for a week on making sure the height and width were perfect before finally submitting the plans to the local council.

And yet it was two years before he was able to see his vision made real.

Pat, who went on to design Great Yarmouth Library while working for the council later in his life, was drafted in, in April 1957, to design railways and ports around the country. Now, having seen the parade area around the memorial change beyond recognition over more than half a century, he is thrilled it remains as respected today as it was when first built.

He added: “I took a friend of mine to see it the other day and I was staggered how well it has been maintained. There’s a wonderful garden around it too – it’s incredible.”