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Merchant Navy Memorial, Tower Hill, London
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Joined: 01 Oct 2008
Posts: 109
Location: Ross-Shire

PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Taken From Western Isles, Back in the Day, August 2009.

Among the 24,000 merchant seamen who lost their lives during the Hitler War their were many Lewismen and there must have been a good many also in the crowd who watched the Queen unveil the Merchant Navy Memorial on Tower Hill, London 10 years after the end of the struggle.
If they had looked closely at the statue of a merchant seaman which dominates the new memorial, they would have recognised the face of a fellow Islander, because the statue is a representation of a Lewis bosun, the late Kenneth Stewart, B.E.M., of Tong. Mr Stewart and his wife were present at the unveiling, and so were their two sons, one of them a London police sergeant and the other a merchant navyman like his father.
Mr Stewart was chosen as the model for the memorial statue because of his length of service as well as for his fine appearance. His father was a seaman and so was his elder brother, who was the victim of a drowning tragedy.
Soon after he took to the sea, Stewart found himself in Canada, and there he joined the crew of one of the ships plying the Great Lakes until, with the outbreak of war in 1914, he came back to Britain to fill his place in the Royal Naval Reserve. Minesweeping was the task which claimed his services during the Kaiser conflict and after the war he returned to the Merchant Service and sailed with the New Zealand Shipping Company.
The Hitler war found Stewart still sailing. His wife was staying at Tong and his elder son was studying medicine. The elder boy joined the Chindits under Wingate and the younger one went into the R.A.F., while Stewart himself served aboard the "Sussex" in middle Eastern waters. In 1943 when the ship was lying in Sydney harbour, its sixth engineer went down into a tank full of petrol fumes to attend to a defective pump and was overcome. He was followed by the chief engineer and by the chief officer, both of whom were also overcome.
The bosun Stewart went below and found the three men lying on top of each other. With the help of other officers above, he tied ropes round them and had them hauled to safety, coming up for air at intervals during the rescue. He was awarded the Royal Humane Society Certificate for Lifesaving in recognition of his efforts.
Another honour followed at the end of the war, when, on the recommendation of the company, he was decorated with the British Empire Medal.
When bosun Stewart joined the Merchant Navy, seamen were paid £6 per month, slept on bags filled with straw in a packed fo'c'sle and had their water supply locked up from 6pm till 5.30am the next day.
He was one of the notable characters interviewed by Wilfred Pickles in his book 'Ne'er Forget the People'.
Wilfred Pickles had this to say of Stewart: "His appearance marks him well and without a shadow of doubt as a seafarer. His handsome, rugged Scottish face and great powerful hands have been tanned by hot tropical suns and salt sea breezes and his incredibly bright, light blue eyes are of the kind only ever found in men who have spent a lifetime gazing at a distant horizon where the green ocean and the blue sky meet".
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Joined: 12 Jul 2007
Posts: 4858
Location: The County of Angus

PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:51 am    Post subject: Party in Memorial Gardens Reply with quote


The memorial gardens for the thousands of merchant seamen who died in two world wars and the Falklands conflict are to become the venue for City bankers' Christmas parties.

Event organisers are planning to erect a giant marquee on the lawn around the monuments in London's Tower Hill and festoon the park's trees with Christmas lights. The move has infuriated Trinity House, the organisation dedicated to mariners, and Labour MPs, but Tower Hamlets council has rejected all complaints. Council officers said protests that it should not allow parties among the memorials to 35,000 men lost at sea were not "valid representations" under the terms of the Licensing Act 2003.

The council owns the land, and will be able to charge the party organisers for its use. Moving Venue, a firm that specialises in arranging banquets in "unique and prestigious" locations around the capital, says that it wants to hold parties from 22 November to 17 December. It plans to sell alcohol from 11am until after midnight. It also wants a licence for live music. The firm also hopes to use the park during the 2012 Olympics.

The parties and banquets will take place in Trinity Square Gardens. On one side stands a pavilion by Sir Edwin Lutyens dedicated to the men who died in the first world war. Architects designed a sunken garden to fit behind it after 1945, to record the names of the merchant seamen who died in the Atlantic and Arctic convoys of the second world war. On the other side of the grass is a memorial to the sailors who were killed in the Falklands.

Richard Beggs, of Moving Venue, told the Observer that the dinners would not disturb the dignity of the gardens. He claimed that Trinity House approved of the plans but Graham Hockley, secretary to the Corporation of Trinity House, said the mariners were appalled.

In a statement of its objections Trinity House said converting the park into "a site of entertainment would impact on the dignity of the memorials and the respect due those that are remembered there".

Jim Fitzpatrick, the Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse, which covers Tower Hill, said that however badly a council needed money it should not allow the "cheapening" of a national memorial.

He said: "Any company sensitive about its commercial reputation would not touch this scheme. This is a totally inappropriate place for people to get drunk and party in. If the company cannot see sense, then the council should withdraw permission to proceed at once."
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Adam Brown

Joined: 14 Dec 2006
Posts: 7312
Location: Edinburgh (From Sutherland)

PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2011 1:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Trinity House Gardens are not war memorial gardens. They are gardens with war memorials; in the same way we have war memorials in Princes Street Gardens here in Edinburgh, and no-one objects to that park being used for events.

I have visited this park in London on a couple of occasions (on the last trip I stayed in a hotel with views over it) and I can understand why event organisers would want to use it. It sits between the magnificent Trinity House and the Tower of London, two of the most impressive buildings in that part of London. It is also a very well looked after park with quite exotic shrubbery.

The Merchant Seamen memorial gardens and pavilion are locked at night so it shouldn’t be an issue on the night of the party. There is a Falklands War memorial too, sited separately from the CWGC memorial, but if that is protected from being used as a seat or a bar then that shouldn’t be a problem either.

During the summer I was lucky enough to visit the D-day beaches. At La Brèche d'Hermanville on Sword Beach there are several memorials in the town’s Place du Cuirassé Courbet. On the day I visited they were setting up a market for the next day. Most of the memorials had gazebo type stalls in front of them. Given I only had one day to visit I was peeved to say the least but if this is the town’s market place then life goes on and the memorials have to take second place.

It’s a slightly different situation because at Tower Hill the memorials are the ‘grave’ markers for missing seamen but if the memorials are locked up and protected from any party-goers then I don’t see why there would be a problem.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2018 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lochgarry, looking for the burial place of John Morrison Broadley?
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