Hawick park could be next in line for special Centenary Field status

Watson McAteer at at the memorial in Wilton Lodge Park.
Watson McAteer at at the memorial in Wilton Lodge Park.

Hawick’s Wilton Lodge Park could be designated as a place of living remembrance to those killed in the First World War.

It has been nominated for centenary field status as part of a project launched in 2014 by Fields in Trust and the Royal British Legion to secure recreational spaces in perpetuity as places to honour those killed in the 1914-1918 conflict.

The park’s green spaces around the town’s war memorials there would be protected and known nationally as spaces dedicated to remembrance in the future.

Hawick and Hermitage councillor and honorary provost Watson McAteer says, if successful, it’s a status which the town would cherish.

“It would be a really positive thing for the town and something the town would be really supportive of,” he said.

“It’s definitely something that we would cherish.”

The bid has been backed by the town’s ex-servicemen’s Club, branch of Royal British Legion Scotland, town councillors and the Callants’ Club.

Mr McAteer added: “I am also going to write, as town provost, to Centenary Fields expressing the fact that we are pleased to have been nominated and to highlight what else has been going on in the park.

“The Callants’ Club has just received permission to plant three negatives, cutouts of those soldier silhouettes planted in Flanders Fields this year, in the park.

“That will be quite a spectacular addition to the Boer War memorial and the cenotaph. The museum there also hosts the roll of honour and the park itself is award-winning.”

Wilton Lodge Park is home to two war memorials.

One is the 1921 cenotaph by James B Dunn and the accompanying bronze statue, entitled Spirit of Youth Triumphing over Evil by Alexander Leslie, which together commemorates those who died in both the first and second world wars.

The second, the Boer War memorial, was erected at the south end of the park in remembrance of the men of Hawick and district who fell in that war of 1899 to 1902.

Fields in Trust has until the end of the year to make its decision on the nomination, but Mr McAteer says the town should be hopeful of positive news.

“It fits the bill,” he added. “The park and its location makes a perfect spot to be awarded centenary field status.

“The scheme itself is a great thing, and I hope we are going to be successful.”

To qualify as a centenary field, sites must include a war memorial and be used for sports and recreation, and if accepted into the programme they will receive special protective status and a commemorative plaque.

If approved, Wilton Lodge Park will be one of 2,735 such parks holding centenary field status in the UK.

Scottish Borders Council’s executive committee has also put forward Lower Green in West Linton and Duns Park for the scheme.

Executive director Rob Dickson, said: “We feel the parks we have nominated, for all the self-evident reasons, are appropriate because of their location in their communities or because of existing war memorials or interests in those areas.

“There was quite an extensive bit of dialogue with various stakeholders, and community groups and neighbourhoods have come up with this proposition.”

There are no funds associated with the project.