Network Rail South East marked the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War with a series of remembrance events at stations as respects were paid to the railway workers and all those who served, sacrificed and changed our world.
On Thursday 8 November, there was a landmark moment at St Pancras International as the station unveiled its first ever permanent war memorial, while on Friday 9 November London Bridge’s war memorial was re-dedicated for the first time since moving locations during the rebuild of the station. On Armistice Day itself, Network Rail proudly hosted a ceremony at London Victoria station to commemorate the thousands of railway staff who played a part in both world wars.
Ian Hanson, stations director for Network Rail South East, said: “Railway colleagues made a vital contribution to the war effort. Our ceremonies at St Pancras, London Bridge and London Victoria paid tribute to these efforts, from our railway colleagues who signed up for active duty, to those who helped the railway move huge amounts of people and equipment between the UK and France during both world wars.”
St Pancras International’s new memorial was created by artist and writer Fabian Peake, to commemorate all those associated with the station who lost their lives during the two World Wars.
This year, on its 150th anniversary and the centenary of the end of World War One, St Pancras International is dedicating the four-metre high memorial as a poignant reminder of the fundamental role the railways played during the wars, reflecting on the lives of those who fought and died serving in the armed forces, as well as civilians.
The memorial sits on the station’s Grand Terrace, close to the location of bomb damage from two prominent air raids in 1918 and 1941 – the first of which claimed the greatest number of casualties suffered in any air raid on a London station during the First World War.
Going forward, the artwork will also mark the location of the annual Armistice memorial.
On Friday, 9 November, London Bridge station’s 1920s bronze war memorial was re-dedicated for the first time since moving locations during the rebuild of London Bridge station. The ceremony was officiated by the Canon Precentor of Southwark Cathedral and supported by standard bearers from the Royal British Legion.
The London Bridge war memorial was dedicated in its original location on its installation in 1921, by the then Canon Precentor of Southwark Cathedral, John Bernard Haldane. While the station was being rebuilt as part of the Thameslink Programme, the memorial was preserved and restored, before being reinstalled in a carefully selected location.
Wreaths were laid at London Bridge on behalf of Network Rail, the Thameslink Programme, the London Bridge station team, Southwark Council and the local community.
On Armistice Day itself, Network Rail proudly hosted a remembrance ceremony at Victoria station. Around 150 guests were present as the Vicar of St Peter’s church led prayers and tributes for those who bravely defended the country in two world wars, before a poignant silence as the Last Post rang out around the station (see video attached).
The two memorials at Victoria commemorate the staff of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway and those of the South Eastern and Chatham Railway. More than 10,000 men from both companies signed up for service in 1914, with more than 1,000 never returning to the railway.