Memorials need to be loved

Ron Clayton. � Paul David Drabble.
Ron Clayton. � Paul David Drabble.
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Across the resplendent white arch that spans the ‘watters’ of Dunne upstream from Lady’s Bridge watching the flotillas of ducks treading water I remember when the aroma of brewing used to hang in the air.

I think back earlier this year to the 150th anniversary of the 1864 flood. Commemorated from Bradfield to Malin Bridge and here in Millsands where a beautifully understated memorial stands almost unnoticed.

Unnoticed? Not quite, thanks to the painstaking research of Karen Lightowler, the scale and human tragedy of the flood comes to life with the names, ages and families of those killed as a result of the bursting of Dale Dyke etched around its base. Some are known only unto God.

That brings me back to the present and the immense tragedy of WW1 – which I spoke about on Sheffield Live Radio last week. A memorial is only a memorial when people or communities acknowledge it and who or what it remembers. Like the Menin Gate or Flodden Field or Kohima or our own War Memorial Barkers Pool (which ain’t a place for political demos). It helps if you can see it of course – which is why some of us want the Crimean War Memorial back where it belongs.

So who should take the lead with this flood memorial and future commemmorations? Since 2008 when it was erected, to my knowledge the first time flowers were placed on it was in 2013.

This year floral tributes were placed by our then Lord Mayor Vickie Priestley with a magnificent wreath of roses donated by Monica Hewitt Floristry and a wreath by the Home Office – in whose immediate vicinity it stands – and its staff attended as well as tributes from Joe Public.

Back in 1864 Robert Rawlinson was sent up by the then Home Secretary – one of our own David Blunkett’s predecessors – to investigate.

He stayed in the Royal Vic walked up the Wicker, saw the damage and sent for assistance. The Home Office even coughed up £50 to the relief fund.

I think you may catch my drift – and please let’s see the tab ends cleaned up. I’m off for a few lengths now. Let’s hope that heron doesn’t take a fancy to me.