It’s that time of year again when a member of the Victorian Society writes to the Star soliciting funds to retore the Crimea Monument (Letters, August 31).
How can they possibly delude themselves into thinking that present-day Sheffielders would want to contribute to the costs of resurrecting this monstrosity and making it the centrepiece of a redeveloped city centre? I dare say that, as a piece of public art, it might have some merit but given the associations it has with one of the darkest episodes of European (and human) history, I think it is best left where it is.
Although the monument’s original sponsors might have claimed it was erected to commemorate the British dead (in which case what about the 450,000 Russian dead?) anyone today can see that it is triumphalist – with its column, its figure of Victory and its captured Russian guns.
Bismarck famously said that the whole of the Balkans were not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier. Given what it achieved (or failed to achieve) that applies in spades to the Crimean War.
Those Britons who went to fight in the Crimea did so as a result of a jingoistic campaign in the newspapers orchestrated by politicians.
When they got there they were met with bumbling ineptitude by their leaders – exemplified by the Charge of the Light Brigade. It was the first war fought in the age of railways and telegraph, which meant that people at home found out what was happening. This led to anti-war riots in London and elsewhere.
The only positive thing to emerge from the Crimean War was the work of Florence Nightingale and her nurses. Given Nightingale’s Derbyshire connections, wouldn’t the Victorian Society’s energies be better directed at campaigning for a monument to her?
There are three problems regarding the Victorian Society’s, at national level, argument for placing the Crimean War Memorial in the NRQ. Cost, precise location and the council’s resulting reluctance to do so. Is part of the reluctance also due to the fact that the Crimean War is part of those dark days of Queen Victoria’s empire?
Is that why Hillsborough Barracks is so overlooked in its historical context?
But there could be a fourth? Is the monument complete? Have we still got the capital? Be interesting to see the monument, if not in situ, in storage.