Sheffield Star-backed Blitz Memorial Trail wins vital cash to go ahead

The Marples Hotel bombsite will be the centrepiece of the Sheffield Blitz Memorial Trail
The Marples Hotel bombsite will be the centrepiece of the Sheffield Blitz Memorial Trail
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We’ve done it!

The Star-backed campaign to establish a city centre Sheffield Blitz Memorial Trail has won Heritage Lottery funding that means it will definitely go ahead.

Looking towards Sheffield Cathedral after the Blitz of December 1940

Looking towards Sheffield Cathedral after the Blitz of December 1940

The Sheffield Blitz Memorial Trail is today celebrating after the Heritage Lottery Fund donated £81,300 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of a defining moment in the city’s history.

The Star has backed the campaign and appealed to readers to raise £15,000 towards the £150,000 total.

Your support for the memorial trail, plus backing from city businesses and a host of Sheffield organisations, has helped to secure the lottery funding.

Sheffield author Neil Anderson, who spearheaded the project, praised The Star campaign’s vital role in the success for the bid and thanked readers for their support.

Neil said: “This is absolutely fantastic news for the city of Sheffield. It will finally allow the sacrifices made by tens of thousands of people in the face of the devastating attacks to get the recognition they deserve.”

Neil is awaiting the result of other funding bids to reach the full total but the lottery decision means the project will now definitely go ahead.

The Sheffield Blitz killed and wounded more than 2,000 people in December 1940 and made nearly a tenth of the city’s population homeless.

The devastating Luftwaffe attacks changed the face of Sheffield forever and flattened much of the city centre.

The industrial East End of the city was targeted just three days later, when Hitler’s planes targeted factories that were a vital part of the war effort.

Thanks to National Lottery players, a Sheffield Blitz Memorial Trail will form the centrepiece of the two-and-a-half year project with up to 16 sites around the city centre earmarked for the installation of permanent memorial plaques made in steel.

The site of the Marples Hotel in Fitzalan Square, which was destroyed on December 12, 1940, will finally get a memorial befitting a war grave and be a key part of the trail.

Other sites include Sheffield City Hall, which still bears shrapnel scars, and The Moor, which was virtually flattened.

Neil started the drive for more to commemorate the attacks following the publication of his book, Sheffield’s Date With Hitler, about the Blitz in 2010.

He teamed up with project manager Richard Godley and heritage interpreter Bill Bevan to submit the Heritage Lottery Fund bid.

Fiona Spiers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund in Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “The Second World War changed communities forever, not just due to the loss of life felt by both the military and civilians, but also due to the huge impact it had on our towns and cities.

“Communities were physically changed forever due to the devastating effects of the Blitz.

“This important project will document and commemorate these sacrifices, enabling communities to gain a deeper understanding of the far reaching impacts of the conflict.”

The award will also fund a major commemoration event to take place on the anniversary.

The Star is teaming up with Sheffield Cathedral to put on a special charity performance of Blitzed!, a play written by former Star editor Alan Powell, to raise money for the Blitz trail.

The show was performed by Dronfield Musical Theatre Group at the town’s Civic Hall last week.

Famous backers of the Blitz Memorial Walk project include Peter Stringfellow and Horrible Histories creator Terry Deary.

It also has the backing of Sheffield City Council, Sheffield College, the National Emergency Services Museum, Sheffield 50 Plus, Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust, South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum, The Moor and Atkinsons.

The Sheffield Blitz 75th project will run until the anniversary of the last German raids on Sheffield in July 1942.