Sheffielders are being given a once in a lifetime opportunity to become a permanent part of far-reaching plans to mark the 75th anniversary of the Sheffield Blitz later this year.
The centrepiece of the project will be the Sheffield Blitz Memorial Trail.
Up to 16 sites around the city centre have been earmarked for the installation of high quality, permanent memorial plaques.
The site of the original Marples Hotel in Fitzalan Square which was destroyed on December 12, 1940, will finally get a memorial befitting a war grave (there are still bodies buried here) 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 in the attacks.
Each plaque will tell a different part of the Sheffield Blitz story and include a sculptured scene that depicts events unique to that area. But, more importantly, they will give people the chance to have the names of loved ones inscribed into them as a permanent memorial to the attacks.
Local history author Neil Anderson, who is masterminding the project, said: “The plaques will become part of the street furniture of Sheffield for generations to come and a major tourism pull.
“Indeed, a delegation of German military were the first people to walk the proposed route just a few weeks ago.”
Neil started the drive for more to commemorate the attacks following the publication of his 2010 book about the Blitz, Sheffield’s Date With Hitler.
He has teamed up with project manager Richard Godley and heritage interpreter Bill Bevan and the trio are submitting a Heritage Lottery Fund bid to secure finances to ensure the sacrifices made by tens of thousands of Sheffield people are never forgotten.
But they need to gather additional funds to ensure their far-reaching plans are successful and are keen to give Sheffield people the chance to have a personal stake in the project.
Neil said: “When the BBC turned my Sheffield Date With Hitler book into a documentary they called it Sheffield The Forgotten Blitz. Look around the city today and there is virtually nothing to commemorate the attacks and mark the incredible sacrifices by the people of the city.
“Our project aims to change that forever and we are keen to demonstrate we have the backing of the Sheffield public.
“We are giving people the opportunity to pledge as little as £10 to our campaign and work with us to make it happen.”
The project has already received donations from Peter Stringfellow, Horrible Histories creator Terry Deary, The Moor, Atkinsons and scores of individuals.
It already has the backing of Sheffield City Council, The Star, Sheffield College, the National Emergency Services Museum, Sheffield 50 Plus, Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust and South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum which already holds a lot of Sheffield Blitz artefacts.
The £150,000 project aims to deliver:
n A major launch event on the 75th anniversary of the first attack, which is December 12
n A permanent Sheffield Blitz Heritage Trail which will publicise and tell the stories of significant sites around the city centre area with the aid of listening posts, interpretation posts, leaflet and more
n The collection of scores of personal memories which will go towards the production of an ‘hour by hour’, ‘day-by-day’ book which will tell the story of the Sheffield Blitz like never before.
n Permanent and travelling Sheffield-based Blitz exhibitions
n Research into the impact of Allied attacks on Sheffield’s German twin city, Bochum
n Website, film and more.
The Sheffield Blitz 75th project is set to last over two years and will end on the anniversary of the last German raids on Sheffield in July 1942. It will tell the inter-connected Sheffield stories of human spirit, steel production and revival.
The group are hoping to raise an additional £15,000 through a ‘crowdfunding’ project, where donors pledge money in return for some benefit. For instance anyone pledging £10 can have a name included in a ‘roll of honour’ in Neil’s new book. Anyone who pledges £100 can have the name of a loved one included on a plaque on the memorial trail.
You can log on to www.crowdfunder.co.uk/sheffield-blitz-75th to pledge your support now.