PRESS RELEASE FROM BIRKENHEAD INSTITUTE OLD BOYS
The release of The Kinnear Miller Report, which we have campaigned to be made public since November 2012, and which a Tribunal has now required Wirral Council to release, makes complex and interesting reading. It raises many questions which we will want to consider in more detail.
What is immediately apparent is that the report did not relate to the Planning Application for Ingleborough Road, Tranmere, which the Planning Committee was asked to consider in October 2012, and the reliance on its contents, which Councillors were asked by Officers to accept, appears overstated to say the least.
The report considers and accepts at face value, a suggestion by Tranmere Rovers’ consultants, that a developer would pay £5m for the site and then subsequently develop it at a financial loss. This is clearly not credible, so the validity of their whole analysis must be questioned?
Based on this report and also the following planning application, Tranmere Rovers intended spending £5m plus on replacement facilities at Woodchurch, whilst generating a net profit of £1.17m from the sale of Ingleborough Road. Yet within five months of the Planning approval the Club’s budget for this seems to have been halved. This would presumably increase their net profit, as would an even potentially cheaper scheme now on the table at Leasowe?
All this, yet the meagre sum of £5,000 set aside in Rovers budget for a new memorial, which amounts to nothing more than a glorified skateboard ramp, is an insult to brave men who gave their lives for this Country and who we are rightly remembering at this important anniversary of the start of the Great War.
At no point have Tranmere Rovers recognised their responsibility to the community over this, nor shown any interest in entering into talks with Birkenhead Institute Old Boys, who have been recognised by Wirral Council as a formal interested party, about ways in which our precious memories may be accommodated. We are open to meet with the Club at any time to attempt to find a possible way forward.
You can read the full report here (downloads as PDF document).
JUDGE: SECRET REPORT INTO INGLEBOROUGH FIELD MUST BE MADE PUBLIC
A secret report into the sale of land owned by Tranmere Rovers is to be revealed to the public.
A judge has ruled there is “a significant public interest” in seeing the document, which relates to Ingleborough Road Memorial Field.
Planning permission was given in 2012 to build new homes on the field, which was sold to Rovers by Wirral Council in the 1990s.
Consent to build on the land was controversial as Ingleborough is a dedicated memorial to 88 former pupils of Birkenhead Institute who lost their lives in World War One.
A key report from outside consultants was commissioned by the authority and seen by councillors on the planning committee.
But its contents were never made available to the public – and Old Boys of Birkenhead Institute have been campaigning for it to be released.
They say Wirral Council “has done everything in its power” to prevent them seeing the document.
But at a special tribunal hearing, the local authority was told it must now hand it over.
A spokesman for Birkenhead Institute Old Boys said: “Release of the report – which we have been fighting to see for 16 months – will throw helpful light on the issue and reveal just how much the club intended to pocket from the sale of this land.
“It is regrettable that council officers have found it necessary to work so hard to prevent the report becoming public, until now.
“When we have sight of it, we will consider our options and take advice on further possible action.”
The council said it will of course comply with all legal requirements and details of how and when the report will be published are being finalised.
Tranmere has recently applied to set up football pitches and training facilities on the Solar Campus site in Leasowe.
The application is likely to come before the town hall's planning committee in April.
LOCAL PRESS COVERAGE REGARDING THE RECENT DECISION TO LIFT THE PROTECTIVE COVENANT
SOME WORDS FROM COUNCILLOR BERT BISCOE
"Of all the British poets of the Twentieth Century, I think that Wilfred Owen is unique because his words and his argument affect the shaping of attitudes towards conflict and the human spirit of almost every young person. His experience was common to his generation, but he found words to speak on all his comrades' behalf and to etch his plea for humanity into the consciousness of our society - I'm surprised to hear that there is no memorial to him. What is certain is that, as a student of The Birkenhead Institute, Owen will have himself been shaped and prepared for his intense and perpetually valuable experience and poetry by his time there. It is, therefore, entirely appropriate that his is remembered and his work and life memorialised in the way you describe was set out for The Ingleborough War Memorial Field.
It is vitally important, as I have tried to articulate in the case of The Tristan Stone, that, in making our society and struggling for a good way of life, we do not deny ourselves or our successors the insights and narratives which such things offer us. We must nurture values and spiritual awareness in our lives, otherwise we risk reverting to a state which the gift of consciousness has enabled us to grow out of. In different ways, both Owen and Tristan belong to a small group of people whose songs inform aspiration and humanity. Tranmere is a football club, like all others, which espouses sportsmanship, fair play, honour and justice - football is seen by many as a metaphor for such values. To be embroiled in an effort to be rid of debt by defacing the symbol of the debt we owe to the likes of Wilfred Owen is a contrary violation of principles held fast and dear by the great majority of thoughtful and sensitive people in our society. The spirit is a material consideration!"
POPULAR MERSEYSIDE MEDIA WEBSITE REPORTS WAR MEMORIAL DEVELOPMENT OUTRAGE!
NATIONAL OUTRAGE AT SECRETARY OF STATE'S DECISION!
The Daily Telegraph published this article regarding Secretary of State Eric Pickles' decision to allow Tranmere Rovers to build houses on Ingleborough Road Memorial Field.
A small selection of readers' comments are quoted below:-
''Tranmere Rovers should be ashamed of themselves for even submitting the application.
"Let we forget" . Someone seems to have forgotten and Tranmere Rovers are showing how far we have fallen since 1918.''
''A disgusting decision from a government that shows no respect or values for our fallen heroes and par for the course from the thoroughly corrupt Wirral Borough Council.
INGLEBOROUGH CAMPAIGNERS JOIN FIGHT TO SAVE BRISTOL MEMORIAL STADIUM
It's not just happening in Merseyside. See here.
LETTER WRITTEN TO MP FRANK FIELD BY BIRKENHEAD INSTITUTE OLD BOY
INGLEBOROUGH ROAD SPORTS DAY - 1950
WILFRED OWEN MEMORIAL FIELD: TRANMERE ROVERS' PLANS PUT ON HOLD
THE 88 FALLEN OF INGLEBOROUGH ROAD MEMORIAL FIELD REMEMBERED
A Remembrance service was held at the Ingleborough Road Memorial Playing Field this Sunday. At 11am a World War I trench whistle was blown, followed by 2 minutes silence.
Trumpeter Al Peters then played The Last Post, followed by the laying of a wreath of poppies in the shape of the number 88. Peter Parsley, the father of a soldier currently serving in Iraq, read a eulogy and then read the names of the 88 fallen boys from the Roll Of Honour.
We would like to thank the members of the public that joined us for this emotional event, and also the schoolchildren that produced a tribute artwork for the gates. We also acknowledge the courtesy of the groundsman and staff at the ground for their generosity and respect paid to the occasion.
BIRKENHEAD INSTITUTE "OLD BOYS" SEEK FINAL REMEMBRANCE SERVICE AT INGLEBOROUGH
The Wilfred Owen Story has written to the TRFC on behalf of Old Boys Of Birkenhead Institute to request access to the Memorial Pavilion to hold a Commemoration Service. Hopefully this will take place on Sunday 11 November at 11am. The public may also like to leave a remembrance tribute safely and quietly near the field gates.
Tranmere Rovers Football Club have been granted planning permission in principle for The Ingleborough Road Memorial Fields, during the Planning Meeting on 25 October.
Birkenhead Institute Old Boy Alun Hughes told the Wallasey Town Hall meeting: “There is a sense of bereavement by many people about what has happened to our ground over the last few years – the slow stripping of its dignity and the custodianship of Tranmere Rovers.
“Wilfred Owen is the most famous of all the war poets and this is the first memorial to him.” he added. “Wilfred Owen and the other heroes remembered here have made the ultimate sacrifice twice: once for country and community and again at the altar of corporate greed.”
A long list of conditions include a legally-binding order attached to the approval which will mean that no work will be allowed to take place at Ingleborough until the money is in place for the Woodchurch scheme. But Prenton councillor Denise Realey, who called for the plans to be refused, questioned whether or not the Woodchurch scheme would be able to go ahead due to funding issues.
She said: “The money for Woodchurch is not there – if we give Tranmere Rovers permission to do Ingleborough and we don’t get Woodchurch it’s going to undermine the committee and it’s going to make us look ridiculous.”
Lead campaigner against the scheme Dean Johnson said the decision “will come back to haunt Wirral Council.”
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Johnson said: "Tranmere Rovers' reputation lies in tatters by this planning outcome. The club with their 'sponsors' The Wirral Borough Council have sold the souls of Wilfred Owen and his band of brothers for profit and greed.
"The sacrifice these brave soldiers made has been weighed against the fortunes of an ailing football club and reduced to pounds and pence, the blood money from the development will not save the club and will shame the Wirral for as long as we remember our war dead."
The National Planning Casework Unit have asked the Planners for the files to see if it is justified in asking for the application to be called in for determination by the Secretary of State.
Our letter to the Prime Minister last week has received his attention and been forwarded to the appropriate channels.
NORTH WEST TONIGHT - 16 OCTOBER 2012
It can be seen here - 19 minutes and 56 seconds in.
'GREEN NOT GREED' CAMPAIGN UPDATE
Many of the houses surrounding the Ingleborough Road Memorial Playing Fields are now displaying our campaign posters. This shows that there is not 'Overwhelming' support for the development plans. Promises to re-site the Memorial Plaque (the whole field is the memorial and is listed) do not need to be honoured by the builder as this information from the Planning Office confirms, “The applicant would not be tied to the indicative drawings 1531-119, 120 and 121 - they are simply an indication of the type of development that might be brought forward at the reserved matters stage.” This of course applies to the number of houses as well. When there are millions of pounds in the offing please read between the lines.Click the image to download a PDF of the poster to print and display.
THE 'LEST WE FORGET ASSOCIATION' SLAM MEMORIAL PLANS
In a letter to The Wilfred Owen Story they are damning in their condemnation of the plans to destroy the Memorial Field and strongly believe the original covenants should be upheld to prevent any future development.
“Our Association has learned, with great concern, that the Ingleborough Road Memorial Field is to be lost to the nation as a memorial to the 88 pupils of the Birkenhead Institute who were killed on World War I.”
Since 1922, the Association's volunteers have worked for the welfare and happiness of physically and mentally disabled veterans and serving men and women of the Armed Services and Merchant Navy. In consultation with hospitals and homes, the charity provides outings, visits and concert parties. It has no paid officials, staff, or collectors.
Click on the image to read the full letter.
ARCHIVE IMAGES SHOW INGLEBOROUGH ROAD MEMORIAL FIELD IN ITS HEYDAY
Archive pictures of the Memorial Playing Fields have been discovered in an old copy of the Birkenhead Institute school magazine The Visor.
Pictured here are various sports day events at the field from the 1930s, which show what a fine building The Pavilion was in its day. Of special interest is a picture of the school rugby team featuring George Bell (who planted one of the 88 poplar trees - some of which can be seen in the background). Mr Bell is third from the right in the photograph.
FIELD CAMPAIGNERS GO DOOR-TO-DOOR WITH HARD HITTING POSTERS
Campaigners fighting to preserve the Ingleborough Road Memorial Field have launched a new poster campaign, 'Green Not Greed' (see previous news item below). Posters have started to appear in the windows of houses neighbouring the threatened field.
Campaigner Dean Johnson says, “The residents are beginning to understand that the consultation they signed was false information — it is to secure 'outline planning' only. This just enables a change of use for the field. If permission were to be granted, the builders can draw up new plans, including commercial outlets. Residents can confirm this information with the planning department.”
Also this week, following a letter written to the Duke Of York, the campaigners have learned that their concerns over the Memorial field have been forwarded from the Duke's office at Buckingham Palace to the new Chief Executive of the Wirral Borough Council.
INGLEBOROUGH CAMPAIGNERS LAUNCH NEW 'GREEN NOT GREED' POSTER AND FACEBOOK GROUP
Campaigners opposed to the development of Ingleborough Road Memorial Playing Fields have launched a new poster campaign. Green Not Greed posters will be distributed around the Prenton Hall Estate that borders the threatened field.
Running alongside this is a social network page on Facebook for the public to comment on the issue. Campaigner Dean Johnson explains, “Our last poster campaign Heroes Not Houses was very successful, but now the residents around the field are a lot more aware of the facts, it will be interesting to see the response. We have changed the caption of the poster to highlight the UK's success at the Olympics, and disposing of a playing field does not fit well with the Olympic legacy of ‘inspiring a generation’ to take up sport.”
This week the Duke of York's office forwarded our concerns to the new Chief Executive of Wirral Borough Council.
Click on the image of the poster above to download a PDF version of the poster that can be printed and displayed.
WILFRED OWEN MEMORIAL ROW INSPIRES DRAMATIC NEW ARTWORK
Tom Allport from Wallasey took up painting when ill health forced him to give up work. The painting, entitled Hope, is a impressionistic statement depicting The Ingleborough Road Memorial Fields that poignantly features the names of the 88 Old Boys of Birkenhead Institute remembered there.
A hugely powerful addition to the work is the addition of 88 luminous stars around the painting's border to represent the Memorial Trees that were planted around the field. These symbolise the 'hope' for a better world that the soldiers died for.
Presenting the painting to The Wilfred Owen Story, artist Tom said, “I’m proud of the painting. It is different but I tried to capture just what those fields meant and hopefully it will become a memorial to those who lost their lives and that they will always be remembered.”
The painting is now on display.
RESPECT THE 88 — A NEW COLLECTION OF POEMS INSPIRED BY INGLEBOROUGH ROAD MEMORIAL PLAYING FIELD
The debate over whether or not to allow building on The Ingleborough Road Memorial Playing Field in Birkenhead has provoked strong emotions both for and against and some of the arguments against have been put forward in a new booklet of contemporary poetry.
Entitled Respect The 88 – referring to the 88 old boys of The Birkenhead Institute school who were killed in the First World War, and to whom the field was left as a “living memorial (including the famous poet Wilfred Owen), the booklet contains contributions from The Wirral itself, right across the country and as far afield as Australia.
One of the contributions: the one that gives the book its title, Respect the 88, by Paul Breeze, has been recorded as a song and can be heard here, it can also been viewed on YouTube below.
Even if you are not involved or interested in the Ingleborough Road situation, Respect The 88 represents a good and varied collection of modern poetry on a war/memorial theme, and with the centenary of the First World War just around the corner, steals an early march on the various commemorative publications and events that are bound to follow during the 2014 to 2018 period.
Respect The 88 can be ordered direct from the publisher from their website at www.poshupnorth.com.
ASDA, THE WORLD'S NUMBER ONE, JOINS FIGHT TO PROTECT WAR MEMORIAL
Conservationists fighting to protect a Memorial Field in Birkenhead have received unexpected support from ASDA, the UK subsidiary of Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer by market value. Ingleborough Field a sports ground dedicated to the fallen from two world wars, including poet Wilfred Owen, is threatened as owners Tranmere Rovers Football Club seek to build 90 houses on what is currently their training ground.
Dean Johnson of Wilfred Owen Watch, who is leading the campaign, said, “You somehow expect these corporate giants to be on the other side, in favour of development - obviously times are changing. The unacceptable face of capitalism is getting a makeover. We are very pleased about this.”
In a letter to Lucy London of the Wilfred Owen Story, another key figure in the campaign, ASDA's Paul Kelly said, “We are currently working with the charity Fields in Trust to protect and secure a community grass roots legacy of outdoor open spaces." He added, "I am also writing to Wirral Borough Council today to express our support for the campaign to save Ingleborough Road Memorial Field."
Ingleborough Field is a registered War Memorial, UKNIWM Ref: 15527. Planning permission has been resubmitted to take advantage of this year's controversial changes in planning law. The campaign is led by Dean Johnson and supported by Fields in Trust, Wilfred Owen Association, etc. A key issue turns on whether the entire field is a war memorial or just the engraved tablet forming part of the pavilion as the Tranmere Rovers Football Club have, somewhat fancifully, claimed.
Following the news breaking, The Wirral News ran this story following confirmation from ASDA's Press Office.
The Wirral Globe exclusively broke the ASDA news originally. However, their comments board on this article was then closed by the Globe's editor, Leigh Marles, following abuse from supporters of the Development plans. These included slurs against the paper's chief reporter. The link now features a statement from the Globe's editor regarding this issue.
According to postings on the Wirral Globe website we are 'desperate' and 'clutching at straws' to try and alert the public to the heritage of the Woodchurch site. The site is linked in the planning to Ingleborough Road, so yes we are desperate to save it. Supporters of the scheme say they were aware of the Viking history at the Woodchurch but it is not mentioned in TRFC's Heritage Statement supporting the planning.
CLICK HERE TO READ FULL ABOVE ARTICLE ONLINE ON THE LIVERPOOL ECHO WEBSITE.
BIRKENHEAD INSTITUTE OLD BOY, 91, JOINS TRANMERE ROVERS HOUSING SCHEME PROTEST
WOODCHURCH LEISURE CENTRE IS SITE OF VIKING SETTLEMENT
The development plans do not take into consideration this important and unique archaeology. This site is linked to the sale of Ingleborough Road Memorial Playing Field so we must spread awareness. The video contains an artist's impression of how the Viking settlement may have looked, and the soundtrack is authentic Norse music.
Address your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WILFRED OWEN WATCH DETAILS VIDEO
Objections to TRFC's plans can be submitted right up to the day of the planning meeting, so please keep objecting. Once this field is gone, it's gone forever.
Dean Johnson talks to the TRFC based deadly submarine show on Radio City's City Talk. Neither TRFC nor the TR Trust could make it to the show
DAILY TELEGRAPH EXPOSE TRFC MEMORIAL FIELD THREAT:
PROOF OF COMMEMORATIVE TREES
HERITAGE WATCH LAUNCHED AS WILFRED OWEN SITES COME UNDER THREAT
Two Wilfred Owen enthusiasts have launched their own antidote to easy planning laws and the increased threat to Wilfred Owen linked sites in the UK. "Email and telephone hotlines have been set up so that anyone who knows of a problem can register it. We need to know as soon as possible so that we can take action," said Dean Johnson, a long-standing Wilfred Owen enthusiast and curator of The Wilfred Owen Story Museum in Birkenhead. Dean has also written a West End Musical about the poet’s life. For his 'Wilfred Owen Watch' project, Dean has teamed up with Shrewsbury historian Nigel Tinsley to protect Wilfred Owen-linked heritage sites. The pair are already involved in opposing development at Wilfred Owen's birthplace in Oswestry, Shropshire, and at a Great War Memorial at Ingleborough Field in The Wirral. Both heritage sites are threatened by housing development.
"In the case of Ingleborough, a planning application for a piece of open urban land has been resubmitted as a result of new laws that make such developments easier," said Dean. "The site is dedicated to the pupils of The Birkenhead Institute, including Owen, who fell in the Great War. You can't just build houses on it. The present owner, Tranmere Rovers Football Club, is supposed to keep it as a sports training facility."
At Owen's birthplace, open land forming part of the grounds is also scheduled for development. Nigel is researching the history of the site. "This is the most important Wilfred Owen heritage asset of all and we hope it will soon be listed as such by The Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport. The proposed development would occupy about 3 of the 4 acres of land at the site - we think that is going too far.”
Not that opposition to development is always needed. "At Wyle Cop in Shrewsbury, the sole remaining building from the School where Wilfred Owen had his first job may be turned into a house - the proposed conversion seems sympathetic and the exterior will not be altered so we don't see any reason to object, but we still want to know about these things." commented Dean.
The pair point out that the disparity in value between residential and other land represents a huge windfall for those owners who can get planning permission, but they claim this is at the expense of our National Heritage, a bonus to individual owners paid for by loss of local amenity and the sacrifice of the huge potential for future tourism.
"In Much Wenlock, the Olympic connection has brought a huge influx of tourism." said Nigel. The pair predict that a similar 'Much Wenlock Effect' will operate both in Shropshire and the Wirral during the forthcoming Great War commemoration in 2014-18. "We don't want to lose the very stuff they will come to see."
Phone: 07539 371925
Below is the first draft of our 'Wish List' proposal for Ingleborough Road Memorial Fields. We would work alongside The Residents, TRFC, B.I Old Boys and local community groups and businesses to achieve a lasting Commemorative Centre that would provide a permanent living Memorial. This is only a dream but some dreams do come true. Please email us with your ideas and thought - please get involved.
THE WILFRED OWEN & BI OLD BOYS' MEMORIAL CENTRE
Here is a list of ideas and proposals that might be implemented for the restoration, use and legacy of The Ingleborough Road Playing Fields, used for many many years by the boys of The Birkenhead Institute, formerly of Whetstone Lane and then Tollemache Road before its closure.
* First of all there could be a memorial in front of the building for everyone to acknowledge the importance of the site and its historical connections: either a plaque and/or a statue to Wilfred Owen, a distinguished Old Boy who was a former member of the school. Also there could be a memorial to all the fallen 'Old-Boys' for families to relate to.
* The building itself, depending on the number of rooms available, could be used as a voluntary 'drop-in centre' for any old-boys or war veterans living in the area or visiting; maybe a room or two used as a 'timeline for the school' and 'TRFC' on its walls and display, photos, war memorabilia from families, a mini-museum sort of thing.
* Maybe a 'Visitors Book' or 'Message Book' for those who just wanted to make a comment or recall a memory of the school and/or the playing-fields.
* Maybe a very small shop or table with B.I memorabilia on it, e.g., replica ties of the houses, e.g., Stitt, Atkin, Westminster, Tate. Postcards of the old school, school photos, maybe Calendars with the school year of choice as main photo, i.e. 1965 Whole School Photo then calendar underneath.
* A cafeteria, run by volunteers, to help with everyday expenses, allowing for several government grants.
* A quiet, reflective room or terrace at the back overlooking the fields, maybe added on later.
* A room for discussion or counselling or debating or mediation, or whatever; a general meeting room.
* Maybe get some computers donated by local companies and use the Old Boys’ Network to help and assist other similar types of organisations around the UK and the world by helping retain and enhance the history and historical value of such places, which, when gone, will rarely be remembered by more than the very few who survive.
* Last of all, and probably the most important proposal, is to run an educational programme, which can be designed by Old Boys, and taken into local schools and to then invite schools to come and participate and enjoy the facilities at The Ingleborough Road Playing Fields. Helping schools to put on Sports Days, School Fetes, or Car Boot Sales to raise funds, all with the aim of being part of the community and its future to connect the past with the present and the future. Maybe use TRFC players to come down once a week/month to put on clinics for young local children, and also Special Needs; good PR for the Club.
The only thing to put in place would be the funding of these projects and the use of the playing fields and the buildings 'ad-hoc', to maybe be leased at a nominal fee of say, £1.00 per annum, on an ongoing basis.
History defines who we are and where we come from. I was inspired by Old Boys like Wilfred Owen and their legacy. We should not lose this valuable part of our local history.
Many thanks to Birkenhead Institute Old Boy John Lemmon for getting the ball rolling.
HYDE WAR MEMORIAL TRUST BACKS INGLEBOROUGH PRESERVATION CAMPAIGN
Hyde War Memorial Trust are with us! See below...
“We are a trust that is tasked with running and caring for a country park east of Manchester that is dedicated to the 710 men of Hyde that fell in WW1.
I have just read the Telegraph article and am truly shocked at the arrogance of TRFC! I have posted a comment to the Wirral Planners, and encouraged other members of our Trust to do the same objecting to this planning proposal.
Just to let you know that we are with you!”
Hyde War Memorial Trust: http://www.hwmt.co.uk
INGLEBOROUGH ROAD MEMORIAL FIELD GHOSTS
If ghosts should walk on Inglebro’ Field, as very well they may,
AMAZING MEN (AMAZING GRACE)
Amazing men, you gave your lives to keep this country free
But dark clouds form and rich men scorn the price you paid in war
In our field of gold we planted trees, one for each of them
SALUTE TO YOU OLD BOYS
Oh those voices, calling! Don’t they know I’m asleep!
Who’s that, whispering, near? "Raby! It’s me, Radcliffe and there
We were forgotten, we thought! But with your caring words
Each sod of earth, each blade of grass, every bough on 88 trees
You brave young man, you stopped your play, your laughter you hid away.
Out of respect for you, you brave young man, and for your friends who can’t come home
So we’ll fight for you, you brave young man, as surely as you fought for us.
Les Highton, Birkenhead Institute 1966-1971
I'M JUST A FIELD!
I remember my early days, and if I had time, what stories I’d tell
Below is taken from the WBC website and clearly states that Ingleborough Road Memorial Playing Field is protected from development.
UDP Topic : Sport and Recreation
RE6 Sports Grounds for Protection from Development Proposal
The following sports grounds and playing fields fall within the urban area and will be protected from development subject to Policy RE5:
Reasoned justification :
The Ingleborough Road Memorial Playing Fields Preservation Society held very positive talks yesterday with a Labour Councillor representing the Prenton Ward (that includes Ingleborough Rd Memorial Playing Fields). The Councillor was very sympathetic towards the campaign to preserve the Memorial field as an open green space as intended. Now that the Labour party have overall control of Prenton, it will be much easier to find a resolution to the issue of the War Memorial that has raged since last August when Tranmere Rovers Football Club submitted the planning application to build nearly 100 houses.
We will issue a joint statement with the Councillors in the next few weeks as we work together to secure the future of the Playing field for future generations.
COVENANTS ON DEEDS - INGLEBOROUGH ROAD
HISTORIC DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE OF THE TRUE STATUS OF THE BIRKENHEAD INSTITUTE MEMORIAL FIELD IS NOW ON DISPLAY AT THE WILFRED OWEN STORY
BIRKENHEAD NEWS 21 APRIL 1926
In a heavy downpour of rain on Saturday afternoon, Alderman G A Solly, who has been Chairman of the Governors of the Birkenhead Institute since 1908, laid the foundation stone of the War Memorial Sports Pavilion, which is being erected on the school’s new playing fields at Higher Tranmere.
Large playing fields have been granted to the school by the Corporation on the Tranmere Hall Estate, and the Pavilion is being built as a memorial to the eighty-four old boys who laid down their lives in the war. Subscriptions from old boys and the relatives of the fallen have been received from all parts of the world.
Among those present at the ceremony on Saturday afternoon were Alderman A H Arkle (Chairman of the Education Committee), Mr Luke Lees (Deputy Chairman of the Education Committee), Alderman R J Russell, Mr J Smallpage , B.A. (Headmaster), Mr R T Jones (Director of Education), and a large number of relatives, old boys, and present scholars.
Mr Frank Seward, presiding, said that the programme explained why they were present that day, and though there had been a certain amount of delay their grief at the loss of those valuable lives was not lessened. The love for those who were lost did not prevent appreciation for those who returned, many of whom were present.
The programme also reminded those present that the way they were keeping in memory those who did not return was one which, he thought, they would have wished. Mr Charles Lewis was the original chairman of the committee, and it was a matter of great regret that he did not live to be present that day. Mr Seward had been chairman long enough to know that the delay was not caused by lack of subscriptions. It had been unavoidable, and much generosity had been experienced that in place of the mere pavilion they had aimed at they had been encouraged to try and secure some inside equipment. Mr Davis, the builder, had put his heart into the work, partly because of his own loss, and partly because of his great interest in the memorial. They were much indebted to Mr T T Rees, the architect, whose work had been absolutely voluntary.
The committee, had they wished, could have no alternative to asking Alderman G A Solly to lay the memorial stone. Only those who had worked with him could have any idea of the help he had given. His interest in the Institute boys, past and present, had always been very pronounced.
Alderman Solly was then presented with a silver trowel by the architect, Mr T T Rees, and after laying the foundation stone addressed those present.
First, he said, he wished publicly to thank the Committee and chairman for paying him the honour they had paid him in inviting him to lay the foundation stone. Secondly, he wished to thank Mr T T Rees for presenting him with the trowel, which would be a pleasant memento of a very pleasant occasion.
He hoped that all who were associated with the school would not take that day as one of sorrow. They should try to look forward with hope and truth, and all that had been gone through would not be in vain. The younger boys could not remember the first years of the war, but he hoped they would be inspired by the example of those who had volunteered for service during the early war years.
The ground was not yet ready for the full number of games to be played, but the younger boys would be able to get in some practice games during the coming summer.
Mr Gomer Roberts, on behalf of the committee responsible for the erection of the pavilion, proposed a vote of thanks to all who had subscribed to the fund for the way in which they had rallied round the committee. He felt the boys of the school would carry Alderman Solly’s message in their hearts all their lives. Alderman Solly was a tower of strength to the school.
The vote was seconded, on behalf of the old boys, by Mr Noel Williams, who said that Mr Solly was the only public man who had consistently backed up the school in its claim for athletic facilities.
The Rev R E T Bell, vicar of St Mary’s Church, conducted the religious service, and the hymn, “Oh, God Our Help in Ages Past” was sung. The ceremony ended with the “Last Post” and the singing of the National Anthem.
BIRKENHEAD NEWS 10 NOVEMBER 1926
Almost the last ceremony performed by Councillor R P Fletcher, in his office as Mayor of the Borough, was to accept, on behalf of the Corporation, the new sports pavilion and playing fields which form the War Memorial of the Birkenhead Institute. The ceremony took place in brilliant sunshine on Saturday afternoon. The pavilion, which is situated at Higher Tranmere, was designed by Mr T Taliesen Rees, and created at a cost of £1,400 as a memorial to the eighty-six old boys of the Institute who lost their lives in the war. Among those present at the ceremony were the Mayoress, Mrs R P Fletcher, Mr J H Clegg, Mayor Elect, Alderman G A Solly, chairman of the Governors of the Institute, and Mrs Solly; Alderman A H Arkle, chairman of the Education Committee; Mr R T Jones, Director of Education; Mr Gomer Roberts, Mr A M Hughes, chairman of the Old Boys’ Association, and Mr F Seward, chairman of the War Memorial Committee.
Mr F Seward, asking the Mayor to accept the pavilion on behalf of the Corporation, expressed his indebtedness to the many subscribers, and said he felt sure the boys who had laid down their lives in the war would have wished the memorial to take the form of a sports pavilion and playing fields.
The Mayor said that that, almost the last official duty he would be called upon to perform, was some of the pleasantest he could have hoped for.
In accepting the care and maintenance of the pavilion on behalf of the Corporation, his Worship said it was a worthy memorial to those who had lost their lives, and would perpetuate the memory of the boys of the Institute who responded to the call of their country, and fought and died during the war, to generations of future students of the Institute.
He trusted that the boys who used the pavilion would co-operate with the authorities in maintaining it as a worthy memorial to those whom it commemorated. They had shown in their lives and in their glorious deaths that the lessons inculcated to them of discipline, self-reliance, initiative and self-respect, had not been lost when they were thrown into the vortex of the European war. They had all maintained themselves in a manner worthy of their race, and the boys who would use this pavilion in the future should, now and again, reflect on the example of those who had sacrificed themselves that civilisation might be maintained. It was with the greatest pleasure that he accepted the pavilion on behalf of the Corporation.
Mr J H Clegg, Mayor Elect, said he trusted the boys who used the pavilion, would remember that in their sports they were playing, not as individuals but as a team, and just as the old boys were a team which carried the war to a successful conclusion, so the present students should maintain the team spirit and play the game, not only in their sports but in the great game of life.
Following the ceremony of receiving the pavilion on behalf of the Corporation, the Mayor kicked off in a football match between the old boys of the Institute, and the Liverpool Holt Secondary School.
Because I always feel like running
THE INGLEBOROUGH ROAD MEMORIAL PLAYING FIELD PRESERVATION SOCIETY
The Ingleborough Road Memorial Playing Fields Preservation Society pledge to honour the memory of 88 Fallen WWI Heroes remembered at this field by preserving it as was intended: for future generations to enjoy and commemorate the price that was paid... the ultimate sacrifice.
“At home, whispering of fields unsown.” — Wilfred Owen
"Now men will go content with what we have spoiled." — Wilfred Owen
The Tranmere Rovers Trust have gone on record in support of the plans to build on The Ingleborough Road Memorial Playing Fields. If you wish to have your say on this subject please post your thoughts on these Wirral Globe links:
13/02/12: WIRRAL MP PRAISED BY CAMPAIGNERS
Wirral South MP Alison McGovern (pictured) has been praised by campaigners for questioning the Culture, Olympics, Media & Sports Minister, John Penrose in Parliament about Goverment plans to draw up a register of War Memorials.
Read the full Liverpool Echo article here.
27/01/12: CALLING JOHN VAUGHAN...
Dean Johnson would like to hear from John Vaughan, who in 2009 sent the Freedom Of Information Request mentioned here.
If you see this, John, please contact Dean via our Contact page.
11/01/12: GIVE PEACE A CHANCE
We share the same concerns about the heritage and legacy of the Football Club and Wilfred Owen and believe they are vitally important to this development.
We are in the process of working together on proposals that will reassure people with interests on both sides."
Pictured are Dean Johnson (far right) with The Tranmere Rovers Trust: Mark, Ben & Mark. Click for a larger view.
07/01/12: PRIVATE EYE BACK CAMPAIGN!
In their 1,301st issue, published on Armistice Day, 11 November 2011, they printed an article about the plight of the fields, with many references to Wilfred Owen and his poetry. They are very critical of the proposed actions by Tranmere Rovers Football Club.
Private Eye editor Ian Hislop lost his own grandfather in the trenches during World War One.
Click on the image to the left to read the article on the full page of the magazine, which will open as a PDF document.
06/01/12: UNITED KINGDOM NATIONAL INVENTORY OF WAR MEMORIALS
This is a war memorial, not a gold rush.
05/01/12: RADIO MERSEYSIDE'S LEGEND BACKS WILFRED OWEN FIELDS CAMPAIGN - NEW!
He joins Wet Wet Wet megastar Graeme Clark (pictured right, second from left in picture), who says, “The rivalry in my home town of Glasgow between Celtic and Rangers is legendary, but at the end of the day it is just a game. I think Tranmere Rovers supporters are doing themselves and the sport itself a lot of damage with their offensive comments. Their treatment of Dean Johnson has been disgusting, and so are their plans to destroy a war memorial.”
02/01/12: LOCAL MUSIC STARS BACK WILFRED OWEN'S FIELD POSTER CAMPAIGN
The Amsterdam and former Pelé star has worked with Elvis Costello and has had his songs recorded by Irish legend Christy Moore, whilst Mal Holmes, who grew up in Prenton, has just finished a world tour with the iconic Electropop pioneers.
Founder of The Wilfred Owen Story Dean Johnson says, “Ian is one of the most important figures the area has produced. He is massively respected by his peers and has huge compassion for human rights issues. He is a long time Wilfred Owen and TRFC fan, so that shows his integrity to back our campaign. Mal Holmes tours Germany a lot now and says Owen is very respected there.”
We are launching a poster campaign Heroes Not Houses this month (see below).
01/01/12: HEROES NOT HOUSES!
Click on the image to the left to open a PDF document you can save and print out and put in your window and/or your car to display your support. This will open in a new window. Requires Adobe Reader, which you can download from our Magazine Page.
Dean Johnson and Jay P McWinen (Wilfred Owen in Bullets & Daffodils) also performed I Would Fight For You on Spencer Leigh's On The Beat BBC Radio Merseyside radio show yesterday (New Year's Eve). The video of this performance is below.
29/12/11: PUBLIC ARE SUPPORTING INGLEBOROUGH ROAD CAMPAIGN
The public continue to support the campaign to preserve The Ingleborough Road Memorial Playing Field, where Wilfred Owen and 87 other fallen heroes of World War I are remembered. All the comments below were added to the Wirral Globe article found here.
“Residents: if you live close to a small park or at present empty space, where people take their dogs for a walk, you can expect houses and flats to appear very soon.
Best advice join or set up a parks friends group and protect your heritage and green spaces so vital to the well being of your community.
Never has it been so true that if You Don't Use it you Lose It.”
If you would like to add your voice, please contact your local councillor here.
28/12/11: BULLETS AND DAFFODILS ON THE BEEB ON NEW YEAR'S EVE
They will perform the new single from the show Conscious, and also reprise the current single I Would Fight For You. Jay, who conducts The Mersey Voices Choir, has recorded tracks for the forthcoming cast album of Bullets And Daffodils. Dean will also perform other material from his career as a singer-songwriter.
The show is on air from 5pm until 8pm. It was on this show that Dean sensationally performed his completed version of a lost George Harrison song in 2009. He will also take advantage of the live broadcast to highlight the campaign to prevent the development of the Ingleborough Road Memorial Field.
23/12/11: JOIN OUR CAMPAIGN TO SAVE WILFRED'S MEMORIAL FIELD
Wirral Borough Council are looking to review the covenant that currently restricts building on Ingleborough Road Playing Fields, now owned by Tranmere Rovers Football Club, where Wilfred Owen and 87 other old boys from The Birkenhead Institute who fell in World War I are remembered.
If you are concerned about this, please forward this article to your local MP.
This is how Liverpool Council respects its own war heroes.
22/10/11: OWEN'S ICONIC REQUIEM MASS TO BE PLAYED FOR FALLEN HEROES OF INGLEBOROUGH ROAD DURING REMEMBRANCE WEEK
The original War Requiem Mass written by Benjamin Britten, based on the poems of Wilfred Owen, will receive a commemorative playing and appreciation in honour of the 88 fallen World War I heroes who are remembered at the threatened Ingleborough Road Memorial Playing Fields in Prenton.
The event will be held at the Wilfred Owen Story during Remembrance Week, and will feature contributions from a performer who took part in the première of this world famous tribute to Wilfred Owen in Coventry Cathedral in 1962.
Organiser Dean Johnson says, “The original vinyl recording of this classic music is very rare today. It was one of the first pieces ever to pay tribute to Wilfred Owen and the fallen of World War I. We wanted to do something special for the museum’s first Remembrance Week, and it is fitting to dedicate the day to the memorial field that honours Wilfred and 87 other soldiers remembered there. The war memorial field is still under threat from development plans.”
The afternoon begins at 3pm on Thursday 10 November. Admission is free.
29/08/11: INGLEBOROUGH ROAD CAMPAIGN HITS THE RADIO
In a studio full of prominent guests, including rock critic Paolo Hewitt, who has written books about The Small Faces, The Who, The Jam and Oasis (and also a keen supporter of The Wilfred Owen Story), Dean performed a song he has adapted from a Woody Guthrie dustbowl classic, for the Ingleborough Road Playing Fields Campaign mentioned below. The song, entitled This Land Is Your Land, went down well, with all the studio guests singing and clapping along to the catchy choruses.
The two pictures show scenes from the radio show, with Paolo Hewitt seated in the centre, next to Dean (with guitar).
25/08/11: HELP SAVE A WILFRED OWEN WAR MEMORIAL
The Wilfred Owen Story is spearheading a campaign to save Ingleborough Road Playing Fields from development. The fields used to be the playing fields of The Birkenhead Institute, although the Institute didn't acquire them until after Wilfred's death. They were subsequently sold to Tranmere Rovers Football Club, who have been using them as a training ground.
The fields are also a war memorial to 88 Birkenhead Institute pupils, including Wilfred Owen, who fell in The Great War. Amongst the men remembered there are 3 recipients of The Military Cross. They are registered as a war memorial by The Imperial War Museum. To read more about them via their website, click here (opens in a new window).
Tranmere Rovers want to sell the fields to developers for housebuilding. Please help to preserve this very poignant open space by signing the online petition at the link below:-