IT CAPTURED the nation’s heart – and now part of the stunning ceramic poppy display viewed by millions at the Tower of London could come to Portsmouth.
A bid is being drawn up by the council and local partners to bring a section of the attraction which marked 100 years since the start of the First World War to Southsea Castle.
It would be a great way for the British people to remember those from this part of the world who fought in the First and Second World War.Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council
Council bosses want to replicate the ‘weeping window’ at the venue – part of last year’s London display that saw thousands of poppies pour through one of the tower’s windows.
The authority is up against a number of organisations across the country who are putting together bids to war cultural programme 14-18 NOW to host the memorial as part of a series of Great War commemorations up to 2018.
Portsmouth hopes to be a host next year to coincide with commemoration events taking place in the city to remember the thousands from Portsmouth’s battalions who fought and died during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.
And Tory council leader Donna Jones said it was vital Portsmouth won its application given the role it played in the war and the thousands of extra visitors it would pull in.
She said: ‘Being the home of the Royal Navy and being a city so steeped in military history, welcoming the poppy display from the Tower of London in Portsmouth as part of its tour of the UK would be a real honour.
‘It would be a great way for the British people to remember those from this part of the world who fought in the First and Second World War.
‘From a tourist perspective, it would encourage even more people to visit our historic attractions, particularly the historic dockyard and Southsea Castle.’
The London display, viewed by more than four million visitors, included 888,246 ceramic poppies, each representing the death toll in the armed forces between 1914 and 1918.
Most of them were sold to the public afterwards but around 10,000 which made up the weeping window and other segments including an arch and a wave have been made available for public use.
Bob Beech, of the Pompey Pals project, set up to remember the city’s battalions, is supporting the council’s bid.
He said: ‘For Portsmouth, the role it played in the Great War has been largely forgotten. We had 6,500 deaths, and over 30,000 men served. We had the ammunitions factories which many women worked in which shortened their lives. Portsmouth was a military town.
‘We need to remember all of these men and women.’
BID FOLLOWS OTHER ASPIRATIONS FOR CITY’S FUTURE
THE bid to bring a section of the London poppy memorial to Portsmouth is the latest in a series of aspirations for the city’s future.
The America’s Cup World Series is coming back to Portsmouth again next year following the success of the city hosting the regatta, which featured Olympic sailor Sir Ben Ainslie, this summer.
Portsmouth City Council is also working up plans into whether an indoor snow centre featuring into an indoor family resort with activities including skiing, snowboarding, sledging, tubing – going down a slope on an inflatable – and ice-skating could go on the former rubbish dump on Horsea Island.