I AM somewhat disappointed, and a little bewildered, in the view expressed by your correspondent writing under the pseudonym “Tommy Atkins” (Letters, November 23rd). I can only assume his view is clouded by a lack of knowledge of the background to the new memorial.
The first memorial to be recognised as truly a Nelson one was the one in Victoria Park. In the mid 1960s, this was deemed to be unsafe and, therefore, dismantled. At the behest of the Nelson branch of the Royal British Legion, a new one was found. This turned out to be the Cross of Remembrance referred to by Tommy Atkins. Coincidental with the dismantling of the memorial, the car park at the Claremont Church in Burnley was being extended and their war memorial was to be moved. It was offered, free of charge, to Nelson Corporation who paid for it to be cleaned and moved to Nelson and placed in a small garden in Sagar Street, where it stood until 1998, when it was moved to a site in front of the library.
Both the memorial and the cross did not bear the names of the fallen. When I retired towards the end of 1993, I decided I would find the names of those Nelson citizens who had been killed in various conflicts. During the next five or six years, I searched the local press in both Nelson and Colne libraries, trawled the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and asked the public for any names they could remember. All this effort resulted in a list of nearly 1,400 names of Nelson people who had died in various conflicts.
With considerable lobbying by the Nelson and District branch of the RBL, Pendle Council accepted a new memorial was needed and agreed for it to be incorporated in phase one of the regeneration of Nelson Centre. While the existing memorial became somewhat redundant, in order to respect the wishes of those members of the public who would not like to see the cross disappear it was agreed to reposition it so it looked down the centre of Market Street. As such it would, perhaps, be the first thing the public would see as they approached Memorial Square from the town centre.
The new memorial was unveiled in October, 2009 by Lord Shuttleworth, the Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, and dedicated by the the Rev. Maj. John Hallows in a ceremony attended by 44 members of the public who had relatives remembered on the memorial, by representatives of many of the regiments honoured on the wall, by members of the Borough Council, many branches of the Royal British Legion and hundreds of the public. On Armistice Day, 2009, a wreath was laid at the new memorial by the Duke of Kent. So, “Tommy Atkins”, I think, now, you should accept the new war memorial in Nelson is the wall bearing the names of the fallen and it is right and proper for the town’s representatives to lay their poppy wreathes at its foot. By doing so, and not at the Cross of Remembrance, disrespect is neither meant, nor should be implied. Members of the public are free to lay their poppy remembrances at the cross, but choose not to. You will have noticed, I hope, that in front of the cross there is provision for wooden crosses to be placed as individual acts of remembrance and many of the public so do.
I hope this helps to clear any confusion from your mind and you now understand no one means any disrespect by laying their poppies under the names of the fallen, which are not forgotten, and are truly remembered, in Nelson.