The Civic Funded War Memorial
This is the story of a plaque that was lost and then mysteriously reappeared.
Shortly after the end of WW2 the war memorial plaque was erected at Hindle House on the outside of the 1939 Community Centre, on the front wall facing Arcola Street. It was funded by the local community and unveiled by Father Spreadbury of St Barnabas Church following a special dedication service. The plaque was in memory of 24 local residents who lost their lives during the conflict, it includes 2 sailors, 14 soldiers a fireman and 7 residents of Hindle House who died when it was hit by a bomb during the blitz. In 1995 the plaque was taken down in preparation for a new entrance and extension to the community centre. In 1998 my grandfather Albert Longman visited Hindle House to see the plaque after he was contacted by a Belgian historian who was studying his brother Reggie who was killed in WWII and was commemorated on the plaque. He was astonished to find that the plaque was missing and no one seemed to know if it had been lost, relocated or destroyed. Despite the best efforts of Albert and his brother Jack they could not find any information of its whereabouts. Albert reported this to the Hackney Gazette (see press releases) and the Imperial War Museum who registered the plaque as “lost” in their inventory of war memorials.
A historic photograph of the plaque outside the community centre
In April 2014 I decided to get the plaque replaced. With my Grandfather Albert and his brother Jack no longer alive we had very little information on the plaque other than that I knew that it had meant a great deal to my family and the families of the other people commemorated on it.
I contacted Southern Housing Group, who had taken over the management of Hindle House from Hackney Council, only to be told that the plaque had been re-erected inside the extension to the Community Centre. No one seemed to know who re-erected the plaque or when. On visiting Hindle House to see the plaque I was delighted that it had reappeared, but it was in a bad way: the marble mount was missing, it had been vandalised and holes had been crudely drilled into the corners to remount it. Add to this 70 years of grime and general wear and tear it was in urgent need of restoration.
The plaque in 2014 in need of rejuvination
It was then that the Hindle House War Memorial Project was initiated in order to raise funds to have the plaque restored and given a new base. Southern Housing Group and The War Memorials Trust assisted with a grant, there was a donation from a local history project called Timeline and funds were raised by sponsorship. In 2015 the plaque was restored by specialist company Inspire Conservation Limited, It was cleaned, the lead letters were reshaped and repainted, the holes filled with a lime putty and marble dust mix and a new Thornback Purbeck marble mount was added; all the works were approved by the War Memorials Trust. It was decided that the best place for the restored plaque to be mounted was inside the community centre as this would afford it better protection and a less hazardous environment. It was refitted in August 2015 and unveiled at a rededication ceremony on the 75th anniversary of the bombing on September 18th (see rededication ceremony page). It is hoped that the plaque in its restored state will now be good for at least another 75 years serving as a reminder of local residents who lost their lives during the second world war.
The restored plaque being refitted by Inspire Conservation
The Blitz Memorial Plaque
It was planned as part of the project to have a separate Blitz memorial plaque for the residents of Hindle House who died when it was bombed on September 18th 1940. All of the seven people killed either had no gravestone that could be located or were buried in mass graves. This plaque would be placed externally on the flats in the location where the bomb landed to serve as a historic reminder of the incident and in memory of those who lost their lives. A similar plaque had be erected on the nearby Coronation Gardens flats by Timeline and we decided that the new plaque should be similar to that one in colour, size and format. Once the funds had been raised by sponsorship, donations and part of the Southern Housing Group Grant the plaque was commissioned to Ned Heywood MBE a specialist in ceramics. Ned had manufactured the plaque at Coronation Gardens and his experience was a great help with the design and wording of the new plaque. The large 450mm diameter ceramic plaque was installed by PBM Building Services above the flat in which Mrs Edith Appleby lost her life. It was unveiled as part of the rededication ceremony on the 75th anniversary of the bombing.
The Blitz memorial plaque prior to mounting