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Zetland Park war memorial and park gates, Grangemouth

A Category B Listed Building in Grangemouth, Falkirk

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.016 / 56°0'57"N

Longitude: -3.7186 / 3°43'6"W

OS Eastings: 292962

OS Northings: 681677

OS Grid: NS929816

Mapcode National: GBR 1M.SYCG

Mapcode Global: WH5R0.V1FW

Entry Name: Zetland Park war memorial and park gates, Grangemouth

Listing Date: 9 September 2016

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 406357

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52398

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Grangemouth

County: Falkirk

Town: Grangemouth

Electoral Ward: Grangemouth

Traditional County: Stirlingshire

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Description

The Zetland Park war memorial and park gates, were designed by Sir John James Burnet in 1921 and officially unveiled in 1923. It is a sandstone structure comprising a hollow central cenotaph as the main memorial, with flanking pillars to the east and west dated 1914 (east) and 1919 (west) respectively, with the gates themselves at the extreme east and west ends of the structure. The cenotaph stands 8.2m tall, with openings on the east and west side into the hollow interior.

On top of the cenotaph is an elaborate sculpture of a lion, representing the British Empire, devouring a stricken Eagle, representing Germany. On the north (front) face of the memorial is a carved sandstone cross, above a statement in lead lettering, reading "In proud and grateful memory / of / the Men from Grangemouth / who went forth during these years of War / to fight for God and the Right. / The names of / those who returned not again / are here inscribed", with a further inscription carved into the stone at the base of the north face, reading "To you with failing hands we throw / The torch: be yours to hold it high". On the east, north and west faces of the memorial are the lists of casualties of the First World War, also in lead lettering. To the rear of the cenotaph is a low sandstone wall, originally part of the encircling wall removed during renovations in 1948. Into the south face of this wall were added three new plaques with lead lettering listing the casualties of the Second World War, and below this is a fourth smaller plaque into which is carved the name of a single casualty of the Korean War.

To the east and west of the war memorial, on the edge of the paved area surrounding it, are a pair of square pillars. The eastern example has the date 1914 carved into its north face and the western example has the date 1919 carved on it. Originally these pillars were connected by a low wall and railings to the memorial itself, but this was removed in the 1948 alterations, although evidence of the fence can still be seen on the pillars themselves. From each pillar, a low wall topped with iron railings extend further out to the east and west, where it meets the two ornamental gates to the park. The four gate piers are square sandstone pillars, with a simple decoration on the capitals, and a decorative urn on the top of each pillar. Beyond the gates, a further short section of low wall and railings forms the east and west ends of the structure.

Statement of Interest

The war memorial in Zetland Park is a notable example of a commemorative monument erected following the First World War. It has some unusual decorative features, including the finely executed lion and eagle sculpture on top of the main cenotaph which is an overtly visceral and militaristic depiction of Britain defeating Germany. It is also unusual that the flanking pillars giving the dates as 1914 to 1919, rather than the more common 1914 to 1918, and the inclusion of a female casualty from the local area. The whole is designed as set piece within the park setting. The memorial was designed by Sir John James Burnet, a major architect in the early 20th century and one of the leading architects of the Imperial War Graves Commission in the aftermath of the First World War, with sculpture by Alexander Proudfoot, a significant Glasgow sculptor and the Head of Sculpture at the Glasgow School of Art.

Age and Rarity

The Zetland Park war memorial was unveiled on 22 September 1923 by General Sir George Ian Hamilton, in memory of the war dead of Grangemouth. The memorial was built at the northern end of Zetland Park, and was also designed to serve as a formal entrance to the park, with the two flanking gates at the east and west ends of the structure.

Several other sites were proposed for a memorial in the town, but Burnet ultimately favoured Zetland Park as the location. There are a total of 276 casualties from the First World War on the memorial, including 1 woman, Annie Campbell Reid, a nurse who died of peritonitis while serving in Egypt, and who is buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in Cairo, also designed by Sir John James Burnet. The addition of Second World War casualties adds another 136 names, and a single casualty of the Korean War is also present.

Although there are some memorials to commemorate those who died in war in the late 19th century and earlier, it was particularly after the First World War that the majority of war memorials were erected. The government at the time encouraged communities to erect memorials to commemorate the local people who had died in the conflict, and it did not place any restrictions on the design of the memorials. Consequently, there are a wide variety of styles, from elaborately carved large monumental structures to simple crosses. Designs include Celtic crosses (particularly in Scotland), obelisks, statues, plaques and stained glass windows amongst others.

First World War memorials are not rare with most communities having at least one. The war memorial in Grangemouth is a particularly impressive design, and incorporating it as a part of the formal park entrance has given it a dual public function. The presence of a female casualty is a rare inclusion on an official memorial, as is the dates of the conflict being listed as 1914-1919, as the Armistice in 1918 is more commonly considered the end date of the war for memorial purposes.

Architectural or Historic Interest

Interior

N/A

Plan form

N/A

Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality

In terms of the design, the memorial is relatively simple, although with some impressive decorative features, such as the "lion and eagle" sculpture on top of the main cenotaph and the ornamental finials of the gate piers. The addition of a striking sculpture is characteristic of Burnet's interest in architectural sculpture and his wishes to portray such a visceral representation of Britain's victory over Germany was the subject of local controversy. The narrative group was not included in the architect's original sketches and the depiction of a brutal conquest was not considered to be in keeping with the prevailing spirit of reconciliation. Nevertheless the architect's new design was accepted as was his wish to locate the memorial in Zetland Park which was expressly extended for this purpose.

The arrangement of the cenotaph is also reminiscent of the architect's larger memorials abroad, where a simple monumental composition was the most important feature of the memorial, such as the centrally positioned obelisk as the dominant feature of the composition for Burnet's impressive and highly important memorial at Cape Helles, Gallipoli in Turkey. However, the overall scale of the Zetland Park memorial, encompassing the sculpted pier, gate piers and connecting walls, fences and gates, is more substantial than other examples in Scotland marking similar numbers of casualties.

Sir John James Burnet (1857–1938) is regarded as one of Scotland's most significant architects of the early 20th century, leading two offices – in Glasgow and London – which produced some of the UK's most important buildings of the period, including the Edward the VII galleries, a substantial extension to British Museum and arguably the best Beaux Arts building in the country. Burnet, was among a select group of British architects, including Robert Lorimer and Reginald Blomfield, chosen to design and erect war memorials in the United Kingdom and in areas of conflict abroad at the close of the First World War. Burnet was allocated sites Palestine, Turkey, Egypt and Mesapotamia (present day Iraq) and Egypt.

Setting

The memorial stands at the northern end of Zetland Park, a public park close to Grangemouth town centre. The park was purposely extended to accommodate the memorial which now resides within the angle formed by the junctions of Abbotts Road, Dalratho Road and Drummond Place. Today the park is within a residential area of Grangemouth, and contemporary photographs indicate a similar setting at the time the memorial was built.

Regional variations

There are no known regional variations.

Close Historical Associations

The memorial is associated with nationally important events, namely the First World War, with later alterations to also mark the Second World War and the Korean War, and with both a prominent architect and sculptor of the period.

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