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from Guardian, Wednesday November 10, 1999

Campaign to save memorial heritage

Maev Kennedy Arts and Heritage Correspondent

English Heritage yesterday launched a scheme to restore and preserve an estimated 60,000 war memorials, described as "the greatest public art commission in history. Sir Jocelyn Stevens, speaking yesterday in London at the Cenotaph, a recreation in stone of a structure erected for the first Armistice Day parade in 1919, said that the memorials, countrywide, would not be abandoned to decay and vandalism. "Near the end of the bloodiest century in history, I believe it is time to remember and to save a largely forgotten aspect of national heritage." He called the memorials a spectacular legacy of 20th century art and sculpture.

With the Friends of War Memorials and the Royal British Legion, English Heritage has set up a 100,000 programme to preserve the structures. Ten years ago the Imperial War Museum began a count of the memorials, but it is not yet clear how many remain. Nick Hewitt, the project coordinator, said he thought the total might be 60,000. The Friends of War Memorials was founded three years ago, when bronze inscriptions and stone carvings started turning up in antique shops and car boot sales.

Sir Donald Thompson, the friends' director, said that many memorials had been thrown into skips, as the buildings which sheltered them were demolished or convened to other uses.

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