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BICESTER TOWN WAR MEMORIAL
UPDATE AND CONCEPT WITH ARTISTS IMPRESSIONS
The current War Memorial is located within the boundary of St Edburg’s Church Bicester and was dedicated by the Bishop of Oxford on 10 Feb 1921. It was erected by the people of Bicester in memory of the 103 men from Bicester who sacrificed their lives during the Great War. It is grade 2 listed and 3 years ago was in a poor state of repair and in need of urgent refurbishment. It is a community responsibility to maintain war memorials and, in partnership with the Bicester Town Council, the local RBL Branch decided to launch a 2 phase campaign to:
1. Refurbish the current Bicester War Memorial and
2. To replace the current with a new memorial.
Phase one of the campaign, to refurbish the current Bicester War Memorial, was completed at the end of October 2014 in time for the Remembrance Sunday Service and Parade. An appropriate way for the town to mark the Centenary of the start of the First World War. The Branch is now actively campaigning on phase two of the campaign, the provision and location of a new War Memorial.
Why is this necessary?
The Branch has looked closely at the current memorial and concluded that:
1. Over the years the town landscape has changed considerably and the memorial is now located inappropriately out of sight of the passing general public.
2. The names of the 103 fallen are not inscribed on the memorial but inscribed on plaques located inside the church. The church is understandably secured when not in use and therefore the plaques are not accessible to the public at all times for reflection.
3. The current memorial is leaning and, although a structural survey has not been undertaken, there is a strong chance the memorial is unstable.
The RBL Branch Committee therefore concluded that it is appropriate to address these problems by running a campaign to provide and locate, in a more central location, a new Bicester Town War Memorial. An appropriate target date for the dedication of a new memorial will be Sunday 11 November 2018, to mark the Centenary of the end of the First World War.
It is accepted this date may not be achievable given the preferred location for the new Memorial is the town Market Square. Plans are in place to refurbish this area but the timescale has yet to be finalised. It would make sense to erect the new Memorial as part of the Market Square refurbishment.
Where is the campaign at?
The campaign started way back in June 2013 and, as stated, the refurbishment of the current memorial has been completed. The Branch has written to Sir Tony Baldry MP (since retired), Cherwell DC and BTC outlining the case and the Branch hold letters of response on file, all supporting the proposal in principle. Bicester Vision and the Bicester Chamber of Commerce have also been briefed on the proposal and have indicated their support.
The Branch has an agreement with the Bicester Town Council who will account for the funds raised and, if and when necessary, raise purchase/works orders. As an aside, it is necessary to point out that funds will still be required to maintain the current memorial as part of the Bicester Heritage. This is very much a community responsibility.
Informal preliminary talks have been held with the CDC Projects Officer and other relevant departments who have all indicated support for the project.
The Branch has gathered information about the availability of grants from relevant authorities such as the Government, Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage and the War Memorials Trust etc. Bicester Town Council has experience in dealing with these authorities and has offered their assistance.
The Branch will be initiating a local press campaign to inform the local population of our plans and hopefully gain support.
What needs to be done?
The Royal British Legion Branch is not able to run this campaign alone. It will be necessary to form a campaign committee, the members having relevant skills and experience.
Work is in hand to decide the design and manufacture cost of the new memorial. Sketch drawings have been produced and a broad outline of cost is £50k.
View artists impressions of the new BTWM in location etc:
Design and Size