Carving their names with pride: Bradwell’s new war memorial
09:07 31 January 2014
Archant Norfolk © 2014
Carving the names into a village war memorial has mingled satisfaction with sadness for master stonemason Colin Smith.
In reverence to their sacrifice, the 68-year-old from Great Yarmouth has “gone overboard” cutting the letters extra deep helping them to weather the years and stand crisp and proud for centuries.
And for a man who is responsible for at least 10,000 headstones in his long career there is the added honour of it being the first war memorial he has ever created from scratch.
Although he knows most of the local monuments like the back of his hand, having refurbished many of them, he has never in more than half a century of work had the opportunity to design his own.
The monument for Bradwell, hewn from Indian ruby red granite will stand 7ft tall and weigh one tonne when it is put in place on the village green near the parish church of St Nicholas.
Adding the names has taken Mr Smith and fellow stonemason Tony Harvey, 39, a full week, working together with patience and concentration at their Hammond Road workshop.
“It is a fantastic feeling to do one from scratch,” said Mr Smith.
“We did go overboard and we have gone a bit deeper than we usually would. It has given us a lot of satisfaction and it will give us more when it is up. We really did enjoy doing it.”
The solid cube which will eventually stand on a plinth and be topped by a pinnacle has 28 names - 16 from the First World War and 12 from the Second World War - carved into the cold hard stone and coloured with silver enamel paint.
Its simple design reflects the solemnity of the subject and makes it virtually vandal-proof.
For the village of Bradwell its completion marks the end of a long saga, delayed by planning problems.
The memorial, funded by local borough councillors through their ward budgets, gives the village a focus for remembrance for the first time.
Until now a plaque in the church was all that reminded people of the lives lost - an omission the parish council has sought to redress with the £4,000 project.
Parish council clerk Jeremy Caborn said: “The council and our chairman Ted Howlett have long been aware that unlike most villages although there is a list of our dead in the parish church there has never been an outside war memorial that people could come to as a centrepiece for remembrance services and for people to come and remember their own relatives.
“An opportunity came up to fund it last year when some of the borough councillors were given ward budgets but the ground does not belong to us and we had to seek a formal lease from Great Yarmouth Borough Council and that has been why it has not really happened before.
“There will be a slab path and already we have had an offer from the scout group to plant some flowers and ensure that it is landscaped and kept in nice condition.
“Ideally it would have happened last year but now it seems appropriate that it is the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the Second World War.”
The official unveiling is likely to take place in August.
Meanwhile parish council chairman Ted Howlett hopes to find out more about the chiselled names in a bid to bring their stories to life and ensure they are not just letters left behind by time.
See Pages 12/13 for more stories from the First World War