Crimean memorial shows respect

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I was sorry to see Paul Kenny’s letter, (Star, September 8), about the Victorian Society’s campaign to get the Crimean War Memorial restored to view in the city centre.

What a grudging view to take of a monument to the people who volunteered and lost their lives.

I was reminded of how, in my youth, I was uncomfortable with what seemed to me the celebration of war tevery November.

When I was a bit older I realised that the ex-servicemen who attended were there to respect their colleagues, not to celebrate the fighting.

It’s the same with the Crimean Memorial.

As it happens I agree with Mr Kenny that much of the Crimean War was a shambles that should not have happened.

But it did.

The shambles does not invalidate the contribution of the Sheffielders who fought in it, (and didn’t cause the shambles).

Their fellow-townspeople purchased a fine monument, out of respect, and I don’t detect in the contemporary press accounts of it much of the false triumphalism that Paul Kenny speaks of.

And the designer was an eminent Sheffield-trained architect.

Florence Nightingale was sufficiently attracted by the idea of such a monument that she added her own money to that of the people of Sheffield who subscribed.

She of course is commemorated by a fine statue in London, alongside the main national memorial to the Crimean War.

In Sheffield – which by the way did very well out of arms supply for the war – there’s nothing.

But there was, and can be again.

Sheffielders’ contributions now would add to whatever might be raised from trusts and the Lottery.

One wider point: Sheffield has seen almost all of its city centre monuments banished to suburban parks or put into store, usually by the traffic engineers.

Other cities value this aspect of their heritage as well as recognising its contribution to the cityscape and to tourism.

Sheffield’s record on this is poor, but it isn’t too late to make it better.

Valerie Bayliss

Chair, South Yorks Group, The Victorian Society