In 2008 when insurance broker Willis moved out of Ten Trinity Square into their current building, a sleek glass-clad high-rise next to the Lloyd’s building, it nearly left something behind.
The architects and senior management saw no place for the firm’s war memorial in their minimalist interiors. Fortunately my cousin said “over my dead body” and prevailed. Rather shocking that a company founded in 1828 should not be proud to honour their staff who gave their lives in two World Wars. The last name of those killed in WWI is Raymond Willis. My cousin’s godfather was another Raymond Willis, named in his memory. Here is the memorial in its new home.
London mainline stations have been hugely improved over the past fifty years. The first was Euston, in the 1960s, where controversially and needlessly the Euston Arch was demolished. But you can’t keep a good arch down and now there are plans to reconstruct it as part of the re-development of the station for HS2.
The most recent station to be re-built is London Bridge which is almost finished. It is now different to other London stations in that, like airports, you pass through the ticket barriers onto a concourse where you can eat, drink and shop while waiting for your train. Inevitably, perhaps unnecessarily, some good features were lost like the South Eastern Railway Offices of 1893.
However, and now we are getting to the point having been diverted along some branch lines, here is something that commendably has been retained.
The inscription at the top reads:
IN HONOUR OF FIVE THOUSAND SIX/ HUNDRED AND THIRTY FIVE MEMBERS OF/ THE STAFF OF THE LONDON BRIGHTON/ AND SOUTH COAST RAILWAY Co. WHO/ JOINED THE FORCES OF THE CROWN/ DURING THE WAR OF 1914-1918 AND OF/ WHOM THOSE WHOSE NAMES APPEAR/ BELOW GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR VICTORY/ IN THAT GREAT STRUGGLE TO SECURE/ THE LIBERTY OF THE WORLD./ “THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR EVERMORE”
Underneath are the names of 526 men who died. The inscription at the bottom reads:
AND TO THE MEMORY OF 626 MEN OF THE SOUTHERN RAILWAY WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE 1939-1945 WAR