The only physical monument being built in Britain to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of World War One will be delivered for no charge by integrated property and infrastructure group, Lend Lease.
The memorial arch at Folkestone will be erected over the route taken by 10 million British, Canadian, American, Australian and Asian troops between 1914 and 1918. The coastal town in Kent was the main port of embarkation to and from the trenches of the Western Front.
In a highly innovative take on the traditional war memorial, designers Foster Gearing plan to install wireless technology underneath the base so that at night black and white holograms of the men can be projected marching through the completed arch. The objective is to bring events to life for today’s younger generation by mirroring the emotional atmosphere of the war years.
The £500,000 project – which is being called Step Short – has the personal backing of the Prime Minister, David Cameron. The memorial will be opened on 4th August, 2014, the hundredth anniversary of the exact day that the war broke out.
Damian Collins, the MP for Folkestone and Hythe who is Step Short’s Project Chairman, said: “Ten million servicemen, as well as medical staff, passed through Folkestone during the war, making it the major port of embarkation to and from the trenches of the Western Front. These included soldiers not just from the United Kingdom, but Australia, New Zealand, Canada and allies of the war effort from around the world.
“Large numbers of these men were assembled outside the Grand Hotel, on the cliff tops, and marched down the Slope Road to the harbour and the ships waiting to take them to France. As they descended the command was given to ‘Step Short’, so that they did not lose their footing marching downhill carrying heavy packs.
“To mark the centenary of the war the Step Short project is building a memorial arch that will stand near the top of that road, over the route taken by the soldiers marching to the harbour. We would like to thank Lend Lease for donating their services free of charge to project manage the design, procurement and delivery of the arch.”
Pat Boyle, Executive General Manger of Lend Lease’s Defence business in Europe, said: “The arch is a genuinely inspirational project which will stand as a fitting memorial to the fallen for generations to come and we are looking forward to delivering it.
“Lend Lease has a strong track record of working with the Defence sector and is arguably the largest provider of defence infrastructure in the world. We have delivered more than í1.3bn of defence projects in Britain during the last decade including almost 20,000 bed spaces for Project SLAM, which involves upgrading living accommodation for servicemen and women, and the recent refurbishment of the Imperial War Museum.”
For more information please visit: www.stepshort.co.uk.