‘Help restore our Menin Gate tribute to the victims of WWI’
05 October, 2018 — By Samantha Booth
Armed forces champion Gary Poole: ‘It should be a place of pilgrimage’
A HOLLOWAY war memorial arch honouring the fallen should be Islington’s Menin Gate, according to a councillor leading a campaign to have it restored.
Manor Gardens War Memorial Arch was unveiled in 1923 to remember 1,307 Islingtonians – including one woman – who
died during World War I.
It was part of the former Royal Northern Hospital site, which about 20 years ago was redeveloped into residential properties by Bellway Homes.
The council has now written to the housing developer requesting it chips in to help transform the dilapidated memorial.
Some of the red paint used to outline names on the memorial has vanished because of water damage. This November 11 will mark the centenary of the war ending.
Councillor Gary Poole, the council’s armed forces champion, told the Tribune: “We want to get it back to an acceptable state for a long, long time to come.
Memorial has names of 1,307 who died in WWI
“These are men and one woman who all were from and had families in Islington. They left to serve their country and lost their lives for our freedom. We owe it to them 100 years later to give our thanks for their bravery. It’s crucially important this is restored.”
In April, the council commissioned a conservation report from an architect with specialist knowledge of historic structures.
According to a report before the full council last month, the architect suggested the current poor condition of the memorial was largely attributed to its treatment during the demolition of surrounding hospital buildings and its incorporation into the residential development around 1998.
The Town Hall will be asking whether the War Memorials Trust can contribute towards the restoration, but has asked Bellway Homes to match any grant funding it can secure. This could be up to £30,000.
Cllr Poole, who represents St Mary’s ward, said water had been “seeping through” as moisture could not escape.
“We had hoped it would be done for November 11 this year as it is a significant anniversary, but we soon realised since we had the architect’s report that this was a far bigger project,” he added.
He compared the memorial to the Menin Gate in Belgium, built in 1927 to remember British and Commonwealth soliders killed in the Ypres Salient.
He said: “It’s very significant, it should be a place of pilgrimage.”
A spokesman for Bellway Homes said it did not wish to comment “given the 20 years that have passed since completion”.
He did not confirm whether Bellway Homes holds the freehold on the building.