ROBERT Buckland MP is calling on members of the public to volunteer their time to support a First World War Memorial Programme as it arrives in Wiltshire.
There are over 850 war memorials which may be at risk across the county and the initiative will discover, record the condition of, and where necessary, repair war memorials.
Memorials include the Cenotaph in Swindon Town Centre, Wroughton War Memorial but also the smaller ones in Radnor Street Cemetery, for example.
Mr Buckland said: “At 7.49pm on Tuesday, 4th August 1914, ten blasts of the Swindon Works hooter signalled the start of the First World War. Within minutes, crowds of men were making their way towards the Park in New Town and the Old Town Drill Hall to promptly report themselves.
“Swindon was the hub of the railway network and its Old Town station served the south of England and therefore all of the military towns in the south of the county. The town also received a huge influx of troops from other parts of the country, as soon as the war was declared. Sanford Street School in Swindon Town Centre was converted to a hospital and Clarence Street School was used as a barracks, while a large camp was established in Chiseldon.
“During the early days, long columns of troops could often be seen marching across Swindon and in just three days in August, the first month of the war, 45 trains left Swindon Station filled with troops. Swindon men were mobilised instantly and in force.
“A total of 5,383 men from Swindon fought in the war and 920 of them were killed.
“Here in Swindon, we have a great tradition of support for our Armed Forces. Despite the dedication of local heritage groups and the work of projects like Swindon in the Great War, the need to record and preserve our Great War memorials remains an important one and it is vital that we engage volunteers if we are to succeed in preserving our war memorial heritage.”
Two War Memorial Condition Workshops will take place in Wiltshire in September.
The first workshop will be taking place in Chippenham on Monday 19th September between 9.30am – 1pm. Further information and registration details can be found here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/war-memorials-condition-survey-workshop-chippenham-wiltshire-tickets-27143961319.
The second workshop will be taking place in Salisbury on Tuesday 20th September between 10am – 1.30pm. The link for this workshop can be found here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/war-memorials-condition-survey-workshop-salisbury-wiltshire-tickets-27143989403.