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Community Memorial Garden
Site Of The Bank Row Bombing, Wick

 

The Concept
The relatives of the people mainly children who were killed in the first daylight bombing in Britain in World War Two formed a group and have been working with others to finally have a memorial to their lost loved ones.  The memorial will take the form of a low maintenance garden using the site of the bombing where nothing has ever been built since.  The site has been derelict and used variously as a yard or store but for the past few years has become a waste ground.  The bombing took place on 1 July 1940.  A gap has remained where buildings were destroyed.


Bank Row After The Bombing


Civilian War Dead In Caithness

How Can It Happen Now?
The group formed a couple of years ago may have been founded at an opportune moment.  Not only are many of the people who can still remember the terrible event getting elderly but revival of the community in Wick and particularly in Pulteneytown has created a number of groups whose aim is to improve and regenerate the area as whole or in part.  The Wick Youth Club and the Lower Pultenytown Community Heritage Association and the Wick Project are all turning their attention to assist in this Community Memorial Garden.  As part of a wider rebirth of the area the Community Memorial Garden will form a tranquil space on the derelict site at the heart of the lower Pulteneytown Regeneration that includes the rebuilding of the Black Stairs in 2005 and the Telford Street housing that opened in 2004 and a range of other changes aimed at rebuilding the economic and social infrastructure of the area.  The whole thrust of a range of arts projects has been to include young people and adults in bringing back pride in a once famous and busy part of Wick. 

Projects So Far Include
The Lantern Parade - 11 September 04
Earlier projects will be added when details are available.

Arts Project Worker
Sue Jane Taylor based at Wick Youth Club

The Organisation
World War Two Air Raid Victims - Wick
Secretary - Elsie Cormack (Formerly Elsie Miller whose two sisters Elizabeth (Betha) aged 5 and Amelia (Amy) aged 9 were killed)
Contact Anne Webster, Wick Youth Club, 11 Lower Dunbar Street, Wick, KW15AH.  Tel 01955 60174
email annewebster2002@yahoo.co.uk

Consultation
Childhood Memories Of The Period
Funded by Rural Voices - Scottish Executive
Grant 15,000

Memories Of Wick
Sue Jane Taylor who is working on project at Wick Youth Club would like to get memories of people of any age of their childhood in Wick.

The Bank Row Bombing
Memories of the event captured by a Hillhead school project by pupils speaking to those who were in Wick at the time and a few who were related to the people killed

The Victims In Bank Row
The bomb fell during the school holidays when many children were out playing on the street in the Bank Row area. Because of the war the summer holidays in 1940 were extended from June 18th and went right on to October 1st. There were fears about collecting children together and the Bank Row bomb highlighted the danger of this. The death of 15 people which included 8 children shocked Wick. The children killed were Frederick Blackstock (5) Isobel Bruce (7) James Flett (7) Kenneth MacGregor 8) sisters Elizabeth Miller (5) and Amelia Miller (9) Donald Thomson (16) and John Wares (5). The adults killed were were Robert Mackenzie Seaforth Highlanders (30) Mrs P Mactavish (44) Mrs Isobel Mackenzie (25) (father, son, daughter and daughter-in-law) Mrs Mary Steven (44), William Smith, merchant (63) and Donald Waters ,fish curer (50).

9 October 05
Let's Do The Show Right Here - BBC Radio Show Made In Wick Last Night

The BBC Radio "Show Lets Do The Show Right Here" was at the Assembly Rooms, Wick last night recording their show with Michelle McManus of Pop Idol fame appearing in the second half.  Local Wick children and young people performed and things were kept swinging along with the host of the programme Bryan Burnett.  He interviewed Elsie Cormack and sue Jane Taylor who are helping to raise funds for the community Memorial Garden to remember the children killed at Bank Row during the war.  The radio show allows local groups to raise funds from the show and to keep all the proceeds for the particular cause.  last night Michelle McManus added her own personal donation of 250 to make a grand total of 2600 from last night towards an eventual target of 150,000.  The group are confident they will raise all the money and will continue to come up with more ideas to reach their goal.  Architect George Harper has been appointed to draw up plans.  A full house last night enjoyed the evening.
"Let's Do The Show Right Here" - BBC  The programme at Wick will go out in January

July 05
SITE FOR COMMUNITY MEMORIAL GARDEN
BANK ROW
Background and Update
On July 1 1940 the first daylight bombing on mainland Britain during the Second World War occurred in Bank Row, Pulteneytown. Hill Avenue, north side of Wick, was bombed a year later. Twenty one civilians were killed in these bombings including ten children.

Sixty five years on the surviving relatives along with members of Wick community formed the group ‘Second World War Air Raid Victims – Wick’ in January 2004. In October 2004 the group were successful in being awarded a 100% grant from Scottish Land Fund and UIE Community land Fund to enable them to buy the original bombsite on Bank Row.

After nine months of frustration over legal matters, the group became proud owners of this property. The groups are grateful to the previous owners for their cooperation over the sale and long wait.

Contractor, G M Henderson who has offered his services as an ‘in kind’ contribution, moved in with his diggers, lorries and cleared the surmountable mounds of fishing gear left abandoned since years on site. The diggers also have demolished and cleared the dangerous post war buildings and removed asbestos cement sheet roofing.

The company issued three tenders out to North Highland based companies for the development of the site. Pentarq, who are Thurso based, have been chosen to work with the group on this development. One of the architects is George Harper, who was born and brought up in Wick. He has recently returned to the North from working in London on many prestigious international architecture projects.

The nine months community consultation, July 2004 – March 2005 was an intense period for the group trying to contact and involve as many people of all ages. Wonderful artworks and oral stories have been created and collected in the visual and oral recordings of people’s war time and contemporary memories. All these important community works will be housed in an archive room within the garden.

The theme will be youth and tranquillity running through the elements within the hard and soft landscaping of this site. Ten school children were killed in the bombing and it is the intention of the relatives to remember their loved ones through the veins of the youth who will benefit from this project.

The group are now seeking funding for the two developments within the site: The garden’s total cost is 150,000; this includes involving and training young people in new skills during its development. The two original Thomas Telford buildings which the group would like to see transformed into a Youth Enterprise Centre will cost 274,516. This centre will consist of small incubation units for young people starting off in business set in the heart of town. The group have been successful in some of the funding but have some way to go before their goal is met.

Two major community fund raising events will take place this autumn: ‘Past, Present, Future Dance’ September 15 and ‘Let’s Do the Show’ for BBC Radio Scotland on October 8 both being held at the Assembly Rooms. This September event is organised through Wick Youth Club and helped funded by Highland Council Arts, Leisure and Sports Department. Young people led and choreographed by dance instructor Carol Webster and her assistant Tracey Morrison will dance through the ages from Neolithic age up to present day in a spectacular multi media performance. The October event will be a ‘War Time’ concert involving Caithness Big Band and other well known Caithness performers with the star attraction of a national celebrity.

6 May 05
Fund Raising
A fundraising evening comprising of entertainment and displays of memorabilia from the war was held at the Pulteneytown church in Argyle Square. Elsie Cormack explained how they had started and where the project stands with an expected start date of May 2006.  Elsie Cormack's two sisters were killed in the bombing of Bank Row.


Elsie Cormack 6 May 2005

Elsie Cormack is the secretary of the Community Memorial Garden group preparing to have the site of the bombing in Bank Row turned into a memorial garden.  Elsie's husband was away in Holland on 6 May 2005 at VE Day remembrance ceremonies.


Carol Smith Raised 861Walking 85 miles
of the West Highland Way

The cheque was handed over on the site on
15 September 2004


The Site Where The Bombs Fell
In Bank Row

See Also
Bank Row -
Photographs Past the Bombed Area
The Hill Avenue Bombing

Wings Over Wick