Jump to content
Free downloads from TNA ×
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

38th Welsh Division Memorial


Tom Tulloch-Marshall

Recommended Posts

Visited the 38th Div. Memorial at Mametz a few days ago, with a view to taking some photos from a slightly "different" perspective. Mission abandoned because the dragon has been taken away for cleaning, but that was a minor disappointment compared with the sight that greeted us when we reached the turning area.

The access stairs to the memorial have "evolved" over the years, but the latest edifice must surely qualify as an architectural horror ? Who on earth is responsible for this monstrosity ? >

post-108-0-18446300-1390258983_thumb.jpg

Tom

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh dear!!!! H &S I suppose! What was wrong before? A tranquil reflective spot being turned into a parking lot / tourist attraction. There will be an ice ceam van there soon.

TT

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wonder who is paying for all of these "improvements" including road widening etc?

Tony

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is what it looked like last April - from the (muddy) car park - not sure which looks worse. At that time the access to the Memorial up these stairs was blocked (H & S again) and we had scramble round the back up a slope through the bushes - nowt keeps a Derbyshire lad out!

post-37838-0-99329800-1390300498_thumb.j

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had an email a day or two ago from a member of the WFA updating me on the progress here is an extract from the email.

Once again not quite as originally designed. I am sure we can mask the short supporting legs with shrubbery when the planting phase comes into play.

so it seems it wasn't as they originally planned but will work with it and try to improve the aesthetic qualities of the surrounding area.

Gaz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had an email a day or two ago from a member of the WFA updating me on the progress here is an extract from the email.

Once again not quite as originally designed. I am sure we can mask the short supporting legs with shrubbery when the planting phase comes into play.

so it seems it wasn't as they originally planned but will work with it and try to improve the aesthetic qualities of the surrounding area.

Gaz

The railings and fencing seen in post #5 were themselves "add-ons".

What gets me about these kind of installations is that they seen to be "designed" by people who are completely and utterly witless. People with zero taste and even less common sense. On site the thing in post #1 looks like part of a crane from Harland & Wolff. If you stood it end-on you could use it as a launch tower for an Atlas Rocket. It is utterly inappropriate and quite dreadful. A beautiful memorial site is beginning to look like a petro-chemical works.

Who is responsible for it, - who do they report to ?

Tom

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've got some sympathy for your point of view, Tom, but I guess it the rock and the hard place - this site is very difficult to get to, especially if you're not as nimble on the old pins - as I am finding it of late. Scrambling up the slope was difficult and very erosive. It is, I feel, the ever increasing problem of allowing access without damaging the site itself.

Not sure what an alternative, acceptable solution would have been. Clearly the site gets a lot of visitors, for whatever reason, and the photos, old and new show serious slope degradation and vegetation damage. I would suppose 'someone' would have had to approve the plans - very obviously aimed at keeping visitors to the designated steps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've got some sympathy for your point of view, Tom, but I guess it the rock and the hard place - this site is very difficult to get to, especially if you're not as nimble on the old pins - as I am finding it of late. ...

Not sure what an alternative, acceptable solution would have been. ...

Graham - you are absolutely right, the site would be extremely challenging without some form of staircase or inclined pathway. (I have had one hip replaced and have other joints on "the way out", so I'm entirely sympathetic to this). This does not however excuse despoilment of the memorial site by slapping on this horrible great carbuncle !

Could a new set of concrete or resin steps not have been cut & cast into the north-easterly slope, as far to the left and away from the dragon as possible ? The concrete or resin dyed dark grey or brown to help it merge into the surrounding vegetation ? A single central handrail fitted to suit both left and right handed users; the handrail finished in a dark colour ? - Some thought applied to the exercise - some style, some panache, some consideration of the setting ? What about a more gently sloping path / stair combination from the south-westerly approach to the monument ? Anything that doesn't impinge directly on the line of sight to the dragon ?

I'm afraid that this monstrosity just screams "designed by a local / central government employee" at me. Contrived by some box-ticker with a set of rule-books and a complete lack of flair or imagination. Bad design is bad design, and maybe the saddest part of it is that the perpetrators can churn it out and they and their masters have simply no idea just how dismal it actually is. If only they'd design (and use) this >

post-108-0-08499900-1390397892_thumb.jpg

Tom

Link to comment
Share on other sites

... can't top that for an idea ...

:thumbsup: Cheers mate

Graham

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hope they bring that Dragon back in pristine condition.. This was taken in 2012 whilst I was with my Welsh Pals.

post-100478-0-82663200-1391020278_thumb.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I am of the opinion that the comments of TT are unjustified and quite upsetting as one who has had an input into the refurbishments that are taking place. This wonderful memorial was created 26 years ago through the efforts of the South Wales Branch of the Western Front Association and as you and others rightly comment it has been well visited. It is a battlefield memorial and the initial intention was to leave the area as natural as possible. However, as you also say it attracts lots of visitors including school children. We have taken the bull by the horns this year and decided to refurbish the memorial in time for the Centenary.

The steps on the northern bank were declared unsafe by Health and Safety and if used could have resulted in a serious accident raising the question of liability. Access was still possible from the southern side through a more graded grassy slope.A decision was taken to remove the steps completely but the CWGC who maintain the site on behalf of the South Wales Branch of the WFA suggested that we might keep the steps through joint financial input.Sadly we did not have the funds to create a marble staircase or even a resin one painted grey. We went with the CWGC experts/architects and the resulting steps have been created. We have had to raise funds to achieve this.They have been designed to be to standards determined by French Law. Once the appropriate planting takes place the supports will be masked and will blend in with the area. The stairs have been tucked into the side of the bank away from the siight line from the memorial to Flat iron Copse cemetery.

The Dragon has been taken away by CWGC to its work shops at Ypres where it will be cleaned and repainted to the specifications of the sculptor David Petersen. It will be repositioned shortly.This part of the refurbishment is being funded by the Welsh Government. The stone plinth will also be rennovated.

We undertook to have this work done during the winter months believing this to be a time when fewer visitors come to the site and to ensure that everything would be pristine by the Spring when we anticipate the visitor season begins. The notification of this has been on CWGC, Welsh Government and WFA websites.We are sorry if this has inconvenienced visitors but has been done with the best intent. I am sure most people will be pleased when the process is complete.

The planting and landscaping of the site and the removal of some of the intrusive blackthorn bushes will be the next phase. Fundraising for this is underway.

The road has been improved by the commune of Mametz and its Mayor who are enthusiastic supporters of the memorial.Hopefully in the future no visitor will risk the breaking of an axle or spring to get to the memorial. It is hoped that they will also improve the track to Flat Iron Copse cemetery and improve access from the northern (Bazentin)approach. The local community also paid from its own budget to improve the turning circle/car park to allow large coaches to turn safely. The people of Mametz respect the memorial and the sacrifice of Welsh soldiers which it represents. They are firm supporters.

In July 2016 there will be a series of acts of remembrance at the memorial site and in the are of Mametz Wood and Flatiron copse. I hope as many of you out there will come to be part of this occasion.

I and others find the image of a gun uploaded by Tom Tulloch-Marshall offensive and in bad taste. It denigrates the efforts we make to honour the memory of those who fell. Similarly I cannot understand what he refers to as a carbuncle or a petro chemical works.Perhaps his bad taste will backfire on himself. I hope he will be able to attend the planned ceremony in 2016.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well done Ghazala and mates showing the Welsh flag at the memorial

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Excellent post Archi which fully explains everything. Good wishes to you all. I shall return next September and the Dragon will be at the top of my list for a visit. Well done. I will be there for the service in July 1916.

Eddie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for your support Ghazala. if I knew how to post photos on here I would send some interesting ones. I presume you mean 2016!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

post-68171-0-64871300-1391898418_thumb.j

Mametz Villagers and WFA representatives with David Petersen nat the Maire in Mametz 19th September 2013

Edited by archibaldsidney
Link to comment
Share on other sites

....Sadly we did not have the funds to create a marble staircase .... We went with the CWGC experts/architects and the resulting steps have been created. ... The stairs have been tucked into the side of the bank away from the siight line from the memorial to Flat iron Copse cemetery. ...

We seem to be talking of two different memorials, because I recognise little of what you say as being applicable to what has now been installed at Mametz.

I don't know where any suggestion of a marble staircase might have come from as any architect or engineer worth their salt would reject such a thing as unsafe in this place where it is likely to be wet for much of the year, in fact I find it hard to believe that an architect has been involved in designing this thing, - I certainly wouldn't expect them to be adding it to their portfolio, as it is a monstrosity; no two ways about it. As for the claim that it is "away from the siight line from the memorial to Flat iron Copse cemetery" >

post-108-0-61834300-1391899734_thumb.jpg

It could hardly be more in the line of sight !

Well done to those who raised money for the refurbishment, but it could have been spent much more wisely.

Tom

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I simply preferred it as it was. I respect the efforts by volunteers and others concerned but I don't like the way things are being developed.

I preferred to quietly contemplate the events in 1916 at a tranquil quiet valley devoid of as much human development as possible.

I am entitled to my views. No offence intended.

TT

Ps I might have to stop posting as I seem to be upsetting the world at the moment!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I simply preferred it as it was. I respect the efforts by volunteers and others concerned but I don't like the way things are being developed.

I preferred to quietly contemplate the events in 1916 at a tranquil quiet valley devoid of as much human development as possible.

I am entitled to my views. No offence intended.

TT

Ps I might have to stop posting as I seem to be upsetting the world at the moment!

You are entitled to your views and certainly justified in expressing them on this forum. The fact that someone disagrees is par for the course. It's called living in a democracy. That archibaldsydney is "upset" is not the measure by which debates should be silenced, nor is it much of a rejoinder. Nor should it follow that the good intentions of those instrumental in installing the stairs mean that any sort of criticism is off limits or banned.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I prefer steps that take me up and down safely, whatever the design. I fell on my arsee in the mud and rain going up here last year.

post-100478-0-67434300-1391957016_thumb.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The road has been improved by the commune of Mametz and its Mayor who are enthusiastic supporters of the memorial.Hopefully in the future no visitor will risk the breaking of an axle or spring to get to the memorial. It is hoped that they will also improve the track to Flat Iron Copse cemetery and improve access from the northern (Bazentin)approach. The local community also paid from its own budget to improve the turning circle/car park to allow large coaches to turn safely. The people of Mametz respect the memorial and the sacrifice of Welsh soldiers which it represents. They are firm supporters.

I wonder if anyone voiced an opinion that suggested that to develop roads, coach turning circles etc would damage the battlefield environment and the very tranquility that makes this site so appealing to visitors?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I prefer steps that take me up and down safely, whatever the design. I fell on my arsee in the mud and rain going up here last year.

Yep - the battlefield sites do (and did) get a bit muddy at times - but who wouldn't prefer the approach in Ghazala's photo to Tom's in post #17 ?

Cue for all those who would .........

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I prefer steps that take me up and down safely, whatever the design. I fell on my arsee in the mud and rain going up here last year.

post-108-0-66524200-1391975709_thumb.jpg

The south - westerly approach, as I mentioned in post #9. How easy would it have been to design and install an unobtrusive and gentle path / stair combination up this approach ?

I'm sorry, but what has been foisted on this memorial site is an absolute travesty. Its a nasty, horrible, lump of industrial junk. No point getting indignant about raising funds for this - you may as well have raised funds for a couple of lorry-loads of old mattresses and tipped them round the dragon.

"Health & Safety" my backside ! This owes more to Hans Christian Andersen's tale of the Emperor's new clothes than it does to health and safety. Good intentions spoiled by poor execution, I'm afraid.

Tom

Link to comment
Share on other sites

TTM,

Totally agree, now wait to be shot at dawn.

TT

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder if anyone voiced an opinion that suggested that to develop roads, coach turning circles etc would damage the battlefield environment and the very tranquility that makes this site so appealing to visitors?

I so agree with this. I fondly remember the times I would sit alone on the bench by the dragon with a flask of coffee and a baguette serenely gazing over to Mametz Wood and Flat Iron Copse. I used to stay there for hours and never saw another living soul.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
×
×
  • Create New...