Portsmouth loses bid to host poppy tribute

The Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red poppy display by the Tower of London
  • Lincoln to be only place in England to welcome display in 2016
  • Scotland and Wales favoured instead
  • But Portsmouth leaders say there’s much to look forward to in city regardless

PORTSMOUTH has lost its bid to showcase a stunning poppy attraction that drew in millions of visitors to the Tower of London, The News can reveal.

The city council launched a bid to bring the ceramic ‘Weeping Window’ display to Southsea Castle this year to tie in with commemoration events marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

Whilst we’re naturally disappointed not to be presenting the Weeping Window sculpture at Southsea Castle in 2016, we will bid again and hope to be successful in the future.

Councillor Linda Symes, Portsmouth Tory culture, leisure and sport boss

The authority was up against a number of organisations across the country who put together applications to the war cultural programme 14-18 NOW to host the memorial up to 2018.

But Portsmouth’s application didn’t make the grade – and the attraction will instead visit Caernarfon Castle in Wales, The Black Watch Castle & Museum and St Magnus Cathedral, both in Scotland, and Lincoln Castle in Lincoln.

But Portsmouth City Council says it will apply again to be a host venue before the tour ends.

Portsmouth Tory culture, leisure and sport boss, Councillor Linda Symes, said it was disappointing – but there’s still much to look forward to.

Cllr Symes said: ‘Whilst we’re naturally disappointed not to be presenting the Weeping Window sculpture at Southsea Castle in 2016, we will bid again and hope to be successful in the future.

‘We have many events planned in the city this year to mark the First World War, including commemorations around the Battle of Jutland with the Royal Navy and the Battle of the Somme with Portsmouth Pals.

‘We were also successful in receiving £600,000 from the Libor Fund for the D-Day Museum, and are waiting for news of the £4.2m from the Heritage Lottery Fund – which we hope to hear about soon.’

The London poppy display Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, seen by more than 4m visitors, included 888,246 ceramic poppies, representing the death toll in the armed forces between 1914 and 1918. Most were sold to the public afterwards, but around 10,000,including an arch and a wave, have been made available for public use.

Councillor Julie Swan, Portsmouth Ukip culture spokeswoman, said: ‘There is so much going on in Southsea and Portsmouth in general.

‘There is so much to look forward to, so I don’t think people will be overly disappointed this time, especially if we are going to have another go at it.

‘It would have been an added attraction on top of what we already have.’

A spokeswoman for 14-18 NOW said there were ‘no particular weaknesses’ with Portsmouth’s proposal, but said bids made by the chosen winners were ‘particularly compelling’. The deadline for applications to host the Weeping Window in 2017 is Monday, February 29.

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