Money to protect First World War memorials welcomed by Hartlepool charity

John Southcott of the Heugh Gun Battery.
John Southcott of the Heugh Gun Battery.

NEWS of a £5m funding pot set aside by the Prime Minister to protect First World War memorials has been welcomed by the boss of a Hartlepool-based history venue.

David Cameron revealed details of how the fund to help conserve and protect Britain’s memorials will be spent yesterday.

The cash, announced at the end of last year and taken from Libor fines paid by banks, will help conserve, repair and protect First World War memorials and graves across the UK and overseas where British and Commonwealth servicemen and women are buried.

Mr Cameron was joined by Culture Secretary Sajid Javid to launch the scheme, and John Southcott, chairman of the Heugh Gun Battery on the Headland, was delighted to hear more is being done to preserve memorials.

John said: “I welcome any scheme like this, and it certainly comes at an appropriate time given we are commemorating the 100th anniversary of the First World War.

“We have memorials at locations all over Hartlepool, so any funding which can be set aside to preserve them has to be welcomed.

“It takes the burden off the local authority, or the various charities that look after the memorials.

“People have raised their interests in things like this with it being the anniversary, and I think it is great news because it is vital that our history is not forgotten about.”

The scheme, which protects and conserves war memorials in the UK, will receive cash over the four-year period of the First World War Centenary to boost support for its grant schemes and expand a team of specialist conservation officers.

Imperial War Museums will receive £500,000 to develop a website, delivered by August 4 this year, to help communities find out where information about war memorials can be found.

By 2018 the site is hoped to be a fully-searchable, free, national register of all recorded First World War memorials in the UK, allowing people to find out where their relatives may be commemorated.

As part of the announcement, English Heritage will receive £500,000 to provide better protection for war memorials by tripling the number of listed war memorials; delivering a larger pool of specialists to repair memorials; and developing an education toolkit for schools so pupils can research their local memorials.

Mr Cameron said: “As we reflect on the events that saw so many people make the ultimate sacrifice, I believe it is vital that we ensure our memorials are fitting tributes to the fallen.

“This £5m will help ensure that local communities can access the funds they need to repair, protect and conserve war memorials across the country, so that they can remain places of respect for future generations.”