Tuesday, February 05, 2013

New Memorial at Fairlop Waters

Last November we reported a Monumental Announcement but did not have any graphics for you to look at, only a text description. Now we have courtesy of the Wanstead & Woodford Guardian.

However, not everybody seems to be pleased with the proposed memorial design to commemorate the men and women who served there over two world wars. It’s “rubbish” says a councillor who supported the Egg Whisk at Gants Hill. “Looks like a hat stand” says another. See WWG.

Anyways, it is now the subject of a Planning Application, ref: 2683/12, “Erection of commemorative art sculpture” submitted by “Miss R. Vision RCL”. You can register your approval or objections on the council’s Planning Portal, and we would like to know what you think in the comments here.


  1. Rather than shout his mouth off perhaps Councillor Kissin would like to show some civic leadership producing what he considers a suitable design and the money required to build it. Thought not.

  2. What on earth have these "hat stands" to do with Fairlop Aerodrome, pilots, groundcrew, Battle of Britain or the RAF? Complete rubbish, an insult to those who served. An old Nissen hut filled with pertinent displays would be far more respectful, interesting, educational and tasteful. Don't waste money on "hat stands".

    1. Well, I like it. But then I also like the Egg Whisk. maybe it's coz I'm an Engineer and not an Artiste?

    2. Those frequenting a certain local hostelry think you might be something of an artist......

  3. Hi, Morris. Something like, but nowadays only if I have an UNDO button at hand or, rather, at mouse.

  4. As they as they don't sing, I'm good. The singing thing that was there over the Olympics got bloody annoying after a while!

  5. In the local press there has been negative publicity, for what is a positive event for Fairlop Waters Country Park. Vision has found funding to be able to erect a commemorative sculpture.

    The Cenotaph and Menin Gate are both magnificent memorials, but neither are suitable for a Country Park.

    The designs up for the proposed sculpture will have multi use:
    (a) To promote curiosity and act as a catalyst for visitors to enquire about history of the site.
    (b) On 11 November and perhaps other memorable dates, to be a focal point for remembrance.

    The two designs require explanation:

    Both are 15 feet high and there are three silhouettes - one for each airfield.
    Each section will have holes to be used to attach wreaths etc
    Each will have an inscribed stone base for which suggestions are requested for wording.

    The first design includes a representation of, an Avro 504E, a Spitfire and Sopwith Camel which flew from Fairlop Aerodrome, RAF Fairlop and Hainault Farm.
    In the appropriate silhouette, letter, F, F and H are included to represent these airfields.
    The body shapes are stylized for the relevant aircraft.

    The second design is a representation of a WW1 body shape with a stylised spitfire tail plane.

    Both models are on display at Fairlop Waters Country Park and public opinion is sought.

    I hope this puts the record straight. The design chosen will be a fitting tribute to those who, During WW1 and WW2 over 1790 men and women served on Fairlop Plain, of all faiths, served and died fighting for freedom on Fairlop Plain.

    David Martin

    1. Looks more like a monument to Area Committee 3 - Fairlop, Fullwell and Hainault. No wonder Cllr Kissin doesn't like it!!!

    2. He's in Barkingside Ward - Area 4. Could be jealousy, of course......

  6. "R VISION" you dont arf need some glasses love.....i do hate to state what i am thinking,but i will as these are going to be here for many a year,the planes look to me like they are heading into the ground.i cannot see relatives and those paying thier respects looking at these and thinking how nice.i would rather see human figures or maybe something a bit more tasteful like the 7/7 menorial gardens these look like they have not been thought through enough.

    1. It's not exactly unusual. There's this one at Bradwell Bay for example - Click!

  7. Sorry David, I think it is great to have a memorial, but if the design has to be explained then it defeats the object. I am a plane enthusiast, but I can not recognise the outlines of the planes displayed. Maybe a more simply and recognisable model like a spitfire depicted as a gate sentinel would be better. I know other planes flew but I am thinking how the public my perceive it.

  8. Hi, David. I'm afraid I agree with Anon: If you need to explain the "hat stands", they're failing to get their message across. And who is going to stand beside them explaining what they mean?

    I prefer my suggestion of a Nissen hut as both memorial and museum. I wasn't being sarcastic. When I was a very small boy my father used to take me to Fairlop Aerodrome to watch a model plane club flying models from the old runways. The Nissen huts were still there, cheap and cheerful air raid shelters cum living quarters. A Nissen hut would certainly stir memories for me.

    I suppose the biggest argument against a Nissen hut museum/memorial is that Vision would need to staff it. The "hat stands" it can just erect and forget. I wonder if there would be enough enthusiasts to volunteer to open a museum at weekends.

  9. As someone who had consistently complained about the absence of a suitable reminder at Fairlop of the heroism and fortitude of those who flew from there, I was delighted when last November I saw the drawings of the then proposed memorial. David Martin’s determination and persistence had at last paid off and he should be
    exceedingly proud of his – and his helpers’ – achievement. However, on seeing the two units ‘in the round’, so to speak, I can’t help feeling that the concept has gone somewhat pear-shaped (or should that be plane-shaped?).

    I feel the outcome of all this hard work looks a bit like ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’ and, reluctantly, I must agree with the ‘hat-stand’ theorists. Criticism is easy of course but the problem is how to save the day? Perhaps instead of the vertical format, a ninety degree turn to the horizontal, using the same cut-outs and layered, might make the memorial more acceptable to the public eye. After all, a fighter plane diving into the ground can hardly be seen as an appropriate reminder of the skills of the pilot, and with all six planes similarly depicted, even less so.

    So with the greatest amount of goodwill possible – and I assume the arrangements have not yet been finalised – I humbly suggest a bit of a re-think.

  10. Perhaps David didn’t make himself clear enough…?

    The two Memorial designs were selected following the invitation of Expressions of Interest from artists and sculptors experienced with work in the public realm.

    The approach to this Memorial works on various levels – physical, contextual and practical. The idea was to create an iconic Memorial which also works on an intimate level remembering local context and history with a timeless portal into the future.

    The sculpture takes the shape of three symbolic silhouettes representing three different aeroplanes that flew from three different airfields on Fairlop Plain. Symbolic connotations of British engineering, progress, tenacity, sacrifice and hope are alluded to. Although the form has been directly inspired by the context and history of the location it is important that the form of the sculpture has a timeless elegance and the simplicity of its near abstract form allows for personal interpretation and quiet reflection.

    It is important that although the Memorial has a real presence it also sits gently, quietly and respectfully on the site. The Laser cut stainless steel silhouettes at 120 degrees to each other in the horizontal plane will allow different views from different positions and will also reflect light beautifully both day and night, in sunshine and mist. By allowing these structural elements to be integrated into its form there is a realised harmony between its mass and the views allowed around it.

    It will be located on the grassy knoll outside the clubhouse on a circular portland stone base about a meter diameter with an inscription. It is intended that some flower beds will be added to complement the memorial such that it becomes the focus of positive attention and has a cared for look to it.

    At 15 feet the sculpture will be visible from the main approach to Fairlop Waters Country Park, Forest Road and the Central Line railway creating a visible added dimension to the horizon with a curiosity value to draw in visitors and encourage them to learn about the history of the site.

  11. I am not really able to judge one way or the other from the picture above. I just hope they are in reality nothing like the ridiculous totem poles classed as "street art" in South Woodford on the viaduct over the A406. The ones at each end of the Manford Way shopping parade are an even bigger waste of money.

    1. This is not the place to enlighten you on the dynamics and merits of the public features in South Woodford or Manford Way although I reserve the right to do so in another place or time.

      However, I do agree that the cardboard models do little for those with no imagination or understanding of artistic merit. The imposing and solid, yet subtle nature of the stone base, the texture and refractive abilities of the silhouettes, its contextual setting and location are not portrayed in any meaningful way by the photographs. An artist’s impression would have been far more useful.

  12. i do hope that mr Martin is not hurt by the opinions that are being made by people but i do think that the honesty is what is needed.sometimes art can be seen as a metaphor and this is the problem that i have with them. dear Mr Martin after all your hard work i would only want the best for you as i am sure others do too, and i do not see this as that.i cannot see children and those who will come to see this as seeing that it was humans who made the sacrifice for them to live as they can today and sometimes children will say exactly what they see.

    1. David Martin is known to speak his mind, so I am quite sure he won’t mind others doing likewise.

      The fact is that he, I and others here, know that when something new is proposed it is the objectors who make all the noise - witness this planning application – whilst not necessarily being representative of public/community opinion. Those in favour do not generally speak up. The poll in the Fairlop Oak yesterday evening was 100% in favour.

  13. i have already decided that i will not be making any comment on the Redbridge i site,i have seen it and it seems as if Mr martin is a passionate man and so are the writers of the letters supporting his quest,,,seems as if we need more people like him.i wishn him all the best for the future.

  14. If the poll was 100% in favour,register your approval on the planning portal.

  15. Barkingside 21, it is unfair to say that when something new is proposed it is the objectors that make the most noise. Most comments are that it is a good idea to have a memorial it is just that the design is wrong.

    I agree with Alfred, the planes should be viewed in he horizontal format, not diving into the ground.


    1. In which case there will be some saying it looks like a weather vane ....

    2. Whoah, whoah, whoah! Calm down darlings, it's a memorial, not global warming. This discussion is turning into an argument and it should not. Everyone agrees there should be a memorial. It would be unthinkable for there not to be after all this time. On the other hand, after waiting so long and with so much effort and time put in by David Martin and his friends to achieve what at first seemed impossible, we must be doubly sure not to make some terrible mistake. Whoever agreed the final design(s) must obvously have been passionate about the idea. Unfortunately that in itself does not necessarily make it generally acceptable. As with all memorials in the public domain, especially those using public funding (and I must assume that Vision, since it is Council employed, has donated some of its Council remuneration for the purpose) public opinion should be sought and acted upon. B21 of course, is a perfect forum for such a discussion, but not the only one. I particularly enjoyed Weggis's wonderful jokey description (7.06pm Feb.8th) of the piece's 'artistic merits'. (Weggis couldn't possibly have been serious of course). He's wasted at this game. He should be writing wine lists.

      It is obvious that quite a lot of money has already been spent and this must not be wasted. I have already suggested that the design would look better in a layered horizontal format, with all silhouettes tilted slightly upwards - not unreasonably - to the sky. This I feel would incur a minimun of extra expense and the original laser cut-outs could still be used, but with much greater effect. This after all, is a memorial to the flyers of the Royal Air Force. Are we seeking to demonstrate their triumph or their fallibility? Six aircraft nose-diving into a concrete block
      would certainly do the latter.

      As for an inscription, I think nothing better could be used than John Pudney's marvellously touching poem from the 1945 film 'The Way To The Stars':
      "Do not despair, for Johnny-head-in-air;
      He sleeps as sound,
      As Johnny underground.
      Fetch out no shroud,
      For Johnny-in-the-cloud;
      And keep your tears,
      For him in after years.
      Better by far,
      For Johnny-the-bright-star,
      To keep your head,
      And see his children fed."

      Apologies for being so long-winded.


    3. Weggis does not write wine lists, but may well read them......

      Otherwise, I agree. The money already spent should not be wasted. But now is the time for any adjustments that would make the end result an even better job done.

    4. Dear Alfred,

      In vino veritas

      You will note that I write about the physical, contextual and practical levels of the piece.

      Let us deal with the practical. This is not a two-dimensional amateur painting that is hung on a wall and nobody looks at. It is a three-dimensional physical structure that needs to be eye-catching to promote intrigue and interest whilst at the same time being contextually meaningful and respectful. Being three-dimensional it is intended to be viewed from all angles in the round over 360 degrees by visitors and passers-by alike.

      By placing the three silhouettes in the vertical plane at 120 degrees to each other at least one silhouette will be visible to the observer from whatever position it is viewed, assuming that they have their feet on the ground and are not passing by in a self propelled hot air balloon.

      Placing the silhouettes in the horizontal plane, as you and others suggest, means that they would only be visible as meaningful silhouettes from certain angles, and the orientation of the final placement would have to be considered very carefully, perhaps eliminating more than one view from a potential source of intrigued visitors. But I suppose we could incorporate the functionality for them to spin with the wind like a weather vane, as B21 suggests, to eliminate any visual blind spots.

      If nose down is the stalling point then we could turn the silhouettes up the other way to point to the sky but I’m afraid that would promote connotations of a phallus.

      Yours faithfully
      Weggis, Senior Artist, Fairlop Oak

    5. I am really puzzled by all these negative comments. When I saw the proposal in November I was impressed by the simplicity and the way that the the design embodied references to all three airfields - and, for that reason, it this first design which gets my vote.

      There are those who advocate a Spitfire gate-guardian - I heard one such wish expressed only last night - but it would cost around £40,000. Perhaps all those so inclined should club together to buy one? And, of course, set up a Trust Fund to pay for all ongoing maintenance in perpetuity ...

      Another factor to be considered is resilience - I'm quite sure that a determined group of anti-social yobs could destroy one of these fibre glass constructions in a matter of minutes whereas solid steel and Portland stone makes for a much more invincible target ...

      Alfred seems to be having problems with double vision and fails to grasp the idea that the two examples are demonstrated for the purpose of choice and there will only be three, not six, aircraft in the final version ...

      For those that denigrate the design by referring to it as a hat stand, all I can say is, if you can reach up to the top of a 15 foot construction and hang your hat on it, good luck to you!

      As Weggis has said, the height of the proposed structure will make it visible over a wide area, rather than re-arranging it horizontally - a feature that no doubt would require it to be fenced off to prevent anybody accidentally walking in to it, the cost of which would probably blow the budget, anyway ...

      As for the tail-up attitude of the aircraft, it is probably in keeping with the manner in which many air-borne personnel lost their lives. Crashed aircraft are not renowned for hitting the ground nose-up ...

      The design is simple, strong, effective and affordable. It also fulfils a long felt need - and not before time.

      If anybody wants to fund a more ambitious scheme, let's see a fully costed design proposal and the colour of your money ...

      In other words, put up or shut up ...


    Regards Harold Moth
    Fullwell Councillor

  17. so mr knowsie so much for a democracy then,wow someone sure has rattled your cage today,i wonder if you will be applying the same philosophy to the proposals for the oakfield site......"in your words put up or shut up""unless you can buy it yourselves" you are begining to sound like redbridge council,i think that peoples opinions are called constructive critisium,and not negative comments,after all these are the very people that will be going to see it and have concerns over how it will look,you must admit it will be hard to be there paying your respects when your thoughts may be distracted by the design.

    1. Democracy means we are all entitled to express our view, and that includes Knowsie.
      He does have a point there. Cllr Kissin and Alfred were present on 11th November last year when the plans were unveiled. So why didn't they say anything then?

    2. jkm seems to be overlooking the point that alternative proposals, such as plastic Spitfire cost an awful lot more money than is available. In other words, if anybody who wants one isn't prepared to pay for it, it isn't going to happen!

      Similarly, re-arranging the current design 'on the flat' has serious disadvantages. Apart from those listed by Weggis, the ground area will be significantly larger, which might make it a non-starter as far as planning permission is concerned but more importantly, unless the thing is raised aloft on an expensive structure that has not been budgeted for, it will need top be fenced off for safety reasons, also at additional cost.

      The latter would be an appalling visual monstrosity and the former hardly makes it viable for visitors to be able to attach wreaths to, as planned for the designs currently up for discussion.

      David Martin and his group have worked long and hard on this and I think they deserve all the support they can get.

      As far as I can see, the alternatives that have been proposed have not been thought through and, to paraphrase jkm, the rest are deconstructive criticism, offering nothing of value in their place.

      And as for any suggestion that anything I've said here is in any way relevant to the Oakfield proposal, if it wasn't so pitiful it would be funny ...

    3. Yes, B21, you're perfectly correct. I DID see the designs last November. The reason I said nothing then, quite simply, was that it looked a perfectly good idea at first sight. It was only when I saw the photograph published above that I realised something was seriously wrong, hence my further comments. Because it now seems to be clear from the many specious arguments put forward by the great and the good in favour of the status quo, any further comment from me on the matter, or indeed from any other opponent, will be straws in the wind. I must just say that I am totally blown away by Knowsie's comment to the effect that the nose-down design typifies crashing aircraft anyway. "...in keeping with the manner in which air-borne personnel lost their lives... " I think he said. Outrageous or what? Says it all really.

  18. Alfred has sent in a graphic for his suggested alternative horizontal design - Click!

    What do readers think?

    1. Well at least Alfred's design has the merit of depicting aircraft on the upward rather than the nosedives shown above.

    2. "Reach for the Sky"?

  19. Name & Address supplied12:55 pm, February 19, 2013

    I was disappointed to read in your Newsletter No.37 Jan. 2013 that you approved the structures offered as a memoriam.
    I consider the Fairlop Heritage Group's two vertical steel structures terrible and an insult to the memory of those flying out from the respective Aerodromes - I would not call them artwork. I am only familiar with the Aerodrome at Fairlop Waters and consider other people will be in the same position and it is only people with a historical knowledge of their background who will be fully aware of the symbolism of these structures - they are ugly in my view as well and it is possible that metal thieves could use bolt cutters on them.
    A spitfire is an expensive option but surely there are alternatives not these modern structure options some people seem to be in favour of as an alternative. It is stated they will only cost a few thousand pounds - a few thousand pounds wasted in my opinion. Cannot someone come up with an alternative even the structure of the type of memorial that used to be produced to honour the dead from World Wars 1 and 2 in a material that will not deteriorate over a short period of years - I guess marble will be an expensive option - even engravings could be cut out on a less hard material and may be given a coating to protect same - utilising the four sides representing all concerned.

  20. Well, its been so long now that no-one has brought about any significant recognition to the early use of Fairlop so whatever, even though a bit late for most of the early inhabitants and aircraft personnel of the area, we should be grateful for whatever "sculpture" and records which have come to light by much research. This being achieved by Mr Martin and friends. Let us not be too negative toward this style of revival for an historic achievement and section of our borough, let us just reflect and be proud of what Fairlop Waters Aerodrome stood for.