A different sort of war memorial


Image: The Westminster City Hall War Memorial commemorating 82 council workers. Image: © R Maddox 2017

 VILLAGES, TOWNS AND CITIES up and down the United Kingdom are dotted with war memorials.

Typically they date from the 1920s and feature a realistic depiction of a soldier, sailor or airman in a heroic or sometime contemplative pose – standing defiantly against the enemy, rifle in hand, or head bowed saluting fallen comrades.

Those which are abstract usually are cenotaph-like or variations on Sir Reginal Bloomfield’s ‘Cross of Sacrifice’ that features in Commonwealth War Grave cemeteries the world over.

Outside Westminster City Hall I saw what I took to be a piece of sculpture – something that is not unusual in the redeveloping area – that reminded me of a collection of aircraft munitions.

The ‘sculpture’ is a modern-day war memorial commissioned by Westminster City Council, It doesn’t honour those who died in Iraq or Afghanistan but commemorates the 82 council employees who died on active service during the First World War.

Each is remembered by a single Sicilian marble ‘shard’.

The names of those commemorated by the memorial are laser-engraved on a 2-metre diameter disc at its base.

Designed by Lee Simmonds it was dedicated in December 2016. It replaces a Roll of Honour from 1921 which was lost ‘decades ago’ when the Council moved offices.

Lee was born in 1987 and studied metalwork and silversmithing at Sheffield Hallam University. He returned to London to gain his Master’s degree at the Royal College of Art.

And do I like it?

It’s certainly eye-catching and since I first saw it I have found myself thinking about the shape of those polished needle-like projections.

Why choose that shape? I have my own ideas but I thought I‘d contact Lee Simonds and ask him.

If and when he gets back to me I’ll let you know what his thinking was and how he came to design the memorial!

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