A NEW memorial to more than a thousand people who died during the wartime bombing of a Yorkshire city could be delayed two years and may end up in a different location as a result of a potential conflict with City of Culture plans.
So far people in Hull have donated around £50,000 to the Peoples War Memorial, which will remember more than 1,200 people who died in raids in World War One and World War Two, a figure doubled by Hull Council this week to £100,000.
Fundraisers had wanted the 4m wide memorial - a solid globe of steel inscribed with leaves, surrounded by fallen leaves bearing the 1,236 names of those who died - to go up in Queen Victoria Square, on the site of the old Prudential building, regarded by many as symbolic of the city’s suffering in World War Two.
However the square will be part of a £13m upgrade of city streets in the run up to City of Culture in 2017, and the spot chosen for the memorial has been earmarked for a water display.
The memorial was due to be unveiled to mark next year’s 75th anniversary of the worst bombing of the Second World War on Hull, between May 7 and May 9, 1941, but Alan Brigham, chairman of the Hull Peoples War Memorial, said “with everything happening in the city” it may have to wait until 2018, when nearby Queens Gardens is due to be refurbished.
Mr Brigham said the council’s £50,000 award would reassure people of its committment to the project.
He said: “We have been saying from day one that with the plans for the redevelopment of the area it might not be possible (to have it on Queen Victoria Square) and we already had other sites including Queens Gardens and Trinity Square as stand-bys.
“That we have a memorial at all is the most important thing - the date and location is of less importance, but clearly it must be in the city centre to make it accessible from all parts of hull.
“The sooner it is built the better for those that survived, civilians as well as military. The idea is still, if possible, to have it in that spot.”
Sixteen people were killed after a high-explosive bomb or mine was dropped on the Prudential on the night of May 7/8 1941, causing a “white-hot inferno” within 15 minutes. The image of its tower wreathed in smoke has become an iconic image of Hull at war.
Hull was the last city in Europe to be bombed by aircraft in March 1945. But the raids were only referred to as being to an East Coast port and its sacrifice was overshadowed by other cities like Coventry.
Council leader Steve Brady said they would make every effort to make the plans work.
He said: “Per square mile we had more bombing in Hull than London and the suffering was disproportionate for its size and Hull was not recognised nationally as it was always described as a northern coastal town.
“If it can be fitted into Queen Victoria Square we would love to do it. The Prudential is already allocated to have this water display. It doesn’t mean it can’t be changed.”
Meanwhile having bagged City of Culture, Hull is now aiming to be European Youth Capital 2018
An alliance of business leaders, academics, the council and youth organisations is bidding for the title currently held by Ganja, Azerbaijan. They are among 20 contenders, including Bristol and Manchester, hoping to make a shortlist announced at the end of April.
A final decision will be made in November.