Lest we Forget: From the region’s first memorial to Tin Tommy
Sat appropriately at one of the little old desks in the historic Wilderspin National School, Laurie Robinson talks with passion about the importance of history, remembrance and education, especially where war is concerned. He is surrounded by World War One memorabilia that form part of a special Remembrance Exhibition. As the driving force behind the Barton Living Memorial Trust, he is helping to bring a new Tin Tommy sculpture to Barton, along with new places to sit and reflect on life, history, and memory.
“Basically, the idea of the Trust is to educate the next generation and also to keep the memory alive,” he tells me.
The Tin Tommy will be a full-sized metal statue of a World War One era British soldier based on the photo on the right, which is of a member of the Fifth Lincolnshire Regiment. He will stand guard next to the Cenotaph and the memorial bench on Barrow Road for a long time to come, an emphatic reminder of the human sacrifice that bought us our freedom.
Tommy will take up his position in January after a slow and steady construction process because, according to Laurie, “You don’t want to rush it and you need that bit of inspiration, don’t you? It’s going to be what they come up with, because that is sculpture. I mean art is based on inspiration”
But this is just one project in a long line for the avid members of the Living Memorial Trust and their supporters.
Laurie tells me how the Trust started, saying that the early construction of Barton’s War Memorial was a double-edged sword for the people of Barton, giving them a focus for their grief and pride but missing some of those who were still to be found from the inscription.
He tells me, “So we set up the Living Memorial Trust to put those names back on and applied for various grants and other sources, and we raised the money to put the plaques on the Cenotaph. From then on we decided to do a big church service on October 13th to commemorate Barton’s blackest day when 17 lads from Barton lost their lives.”
Seventeen oak trees now stand guard either side of the path through Baysgarth Park to commemorate those lads. The Living Memorial Trust has recently worked together with North Lincolnshire Council’s Neighbourhood Services department, the Rotary Club and the Barton Lions to bring a new lease of life to that area of Baysgarth.
“They’ve all planted the bulbs around the copse so that next spring it will look a tranquil garden, that’s the idea. In spring the daffodils will come up and the trees will be in full bloom.”
I finished by asking Laurie what motivated him.
“Well, I had a wonderful grandfather. He was there, Sgt Jim Knight of the 5th Lincolnshire Regiment, and I just think men like him deserve it,” he concludes.
Look out for Barton’s Tin Tommy and the Baysgarth Park daffodils early next year.
For more information on the Memorial Trust, read their blog at www.bartononhumberatwar.blogspot.co.uk
The Barton Remembrance Day Parade will assemble at the Joseph Wright Hall at 10.15 on Sunday 13 November to march to the Barrow Road War Memorial. A remembrance service will follow in St. Mary’s Church.