The war memorial on the Embankment in Bedford, has been listed at Grade II as part of an English Heritage scheme to list up to 500 war memorials a year over the next five years to mark the centenary of the First World War.
The English Heritage scheme has the backing of Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, who leads for the Government on First World War commemorations.
Unveiled in 1922, Bedford War Memorial was designed by the eminent sculptor Charles Sargeant Jagger to commemorate the local people who died in the First World War, Second World War and, more unusually, the Korean War. No names are recorded on the memorial, rather it is dedicated to the Bedfordians who perished and struggled in the conflicts.
The memorial comprises a striking statue of a knight, presumably St George, arms folded in triumph, standing between the wings of a slain dragon slumped over a square plinth, its claws clutching the front edge, its tail hanging down behind. It is a typically imaginative and fine example of Jagger’s work. Himself a veteran of the First World War and a recipient of the Military Cross for gallantry, Jagger’s other works include the Royal Artillery Memorial in London.
Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Over a million Britons lost their lives in the First World War. It’s important that their sacrifice is not forgotten – and that the lessons learnt during that time are as resonant now as they were then. The centenary programme aims to bring us together more closely as a nation to honour the lives and bravery of all those who served. War memorials are a valued part of our heritage and it is absolutely fitting that we cherish and preserve them for future generations.”
Roger Bowdler, Designation Director at English Heritage, said: “Researching, recording and recommending up to 2,500 more war memorials for listing over the next five years is a major task but one that English Heritage is proud to undertake. These memorials will gain a place on the National Heritage List for England to tell the story of this country’s sacrifice and struggle.”
Bedford War Memorial was put forward for listing by a member of the public. The War Memorials Trust is working in partnership with English Heritage to encourage applications to list war memorials and wants people to report war memorials in poor condition so that it can help get these memorials repaired. For details on getting a memorial listed or repaired – or both, look at http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/caring/first-world-war-home-front/remembrance
Sajid Javid added: “Whether we have relatives whose names are on local memorials, or who fought alongside those who died, we all have a connection with remembrance. I would urge everyone to make sure their local memorial is in good condition. If it isn’t, then English Heritage, War Memorials Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund all have grants and advice available.”