Battle lines drawn over Tallarn Green war memorial railings

Published date: 18 March 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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PROTESTERS are in a battle over a memorial honouring courageous soldiers who were killed in both world wars.

About 50 residents of Tallarn Green took part in a demonstration to show their opposition to planning proposals by the Church in Wales which would include changes to the railings of the village cenotaph.

Among those in the protest were relatives of military heroes killed during the Great War and World War Two, whose names are inscribed on the memorial.

Michael Arnold, clerk of Willington Worthenbury Community Council, said the plans involve residential conversion for St Mary Magdalene Church, which was closed in 2007, and also two other houses.

Mr Arnold said the application included changes to the railings at the neighbouring cenotaph to improve access visibility for the properties being proposed on a field behind.

“The war memorial records the names of 12 men killed in the First World War and one in the Second World War, and was built by public subscription,” said Mr Arnold.

“It has been maintained and renovated by the villagers ever since, with no contribution of any kind by the Church in Wales, which closed down the adjoining Church of St Mary Magdalene some five years ago.

“The Church in Wales registered the land in question as its property in 1996 and now claims the memorial installed over 70 years before becomes its property.”

Mr Arnold told protesters there had been a new development in the battle. The Church in Wales had been in contact with him to offer discussions over the proposals, so there was a chance an agreement could be reached.

Villagers taking part in the protest included Joan Williams, a former church warden.

She is related to Sidney Brookfield whose name is on the memorial.

“Sidney was a brother to my grandfather. He was killed in France during World War One in November 1917,” said Miss Williams.

“These plans have caused a great deal of opposition in the village. There is a very good turnout here today, which shows the strength of feeling throughout the community.”

Among other villagers protesting, Martin Woodhall and Richard Mewes can both claim Sidney Woodhall as a great uncle.

Sidney was a stretcher bearer who was shot by a sniper in France and died six weeks later in 1918 towards the end of the war.

Mr Mewes added there were unmarked graves at the rear of the church which he feared could be disturbed if development went ahead. His stillborn sister was buried there in the mid-1950s.

The protesters were at the church and cenotaph for a site visit by  planners from Wrexham Council.

A Church in Wales spokesman said: “Following two public meetings at the church in early 2007, St Mary Magdalene’s was closed in July 2007.

“We’re anxious to secure the future of this grade two star listed building and, in consultation with Wrexham Council planning and conservation officers, we have developed proposals for residential conversion.

“A new access, independent of the current retained churchyard, has been designed but a small reduction in the height of the railings around the war memorial is required to achieve this.

“We recognise this is a sensitive issue and therefore we are continuing discussions with the local church and the community council to find a beneficial way forward.”

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