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Gate showed way for Wellington to honour its heroes

By Toby Neal | Wellington | Features | Published:

How should we remember them?

The Lych Gate in Wellington is the focus of the town's remembrance ceremonies

As the guns fell silent at the end of the Great War, it was a question posed for communities across the land, and various suggestions were adopted to commemorate the fallen.

But in Wellington projects were put forward, only to fall by the wayside.

And now the little-told story of Wellington when the servicemen returned home has been told in a new free heritage trail booklet, called Wellington's War and What Came Next.

It is available from local libraries in Telford & Wrekin, detailing the town’s many historic legacy sites, and complemented by a dedicated website, www.wellingtonswar.co.uk, adding interactive content about the people, places and events that defined that era, while a series of walks and talks looking at Wellington’s homefront heritage is also in progress.

It is the work of the Wellington LA21 Group, which is a local community organisation seeking to help protect the town's natural and historic heritage, and the scheme has been supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s First World War Then and Now programme.

Project officer Marc Petty said: "We are extremely grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for enabling us to bring the story of Wellington’s Great War legacy to a wider audience.

Centrepiece

"So many of the buildings and locations are still a part of everyday life for local people in Wellington, and we look forward to revealing forgotten stories of the places that people walk past every day.”

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The heritage trail comprises a walk around Wellington taking in many of the features which would have been familiar to locals in 1919, when the peace treaty brought a formal end to the Great War.

And the booklet details the twists and turns as the town looked for a way to remember the dead, which prompted much debate in the town at the time, with one strand of opinion being that it should be something of practical help to soldiers and their families.

"The official memorial committee spent the best part of a year deliberating before launching a disastrous £1,500 appeal in April 1920, which would have funded a large statue in The Green," the booklet says.

"It raised just under half the amount needed and the entire project was abandoned.

"This enabled the Reverend Sinclair-Moore of All Saints to step in. A long time advocate of a simpler memorial in the parish churchyard, he was then able to present a fully-formed much cheaper alternative.

"From it came the 1922 Lych Gate memorial that is the centrepiece of the town's annual Armistice commemorations nearly a century later."

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.

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