Update and summary of current status
- Following an application by Friends of the Memorial Ground, an independent panel has approved adding the Memorial Stadium to the Bristol Local List.
- Thanks to the Bishopston Society, the Mem is also an Asset of Community Value.
- The entrance gates to the war memorial sports ground are listed/designated (Historic England ref: 1396388).
- The entire Memorial Stadium is a war memorial for local rugby players killed in the two world wars (Imperial War Museum ref: 7323).
How does local listing protect the Memorial Ground?
The Local List “provides the opportunity to identify those features of the local scene that are particularly valued by communities as distinctive elements of the local historic environment.” (Bristol City Council).
“Locally listed buildings do not enjoy the levels of statutory protection afforded to nationally-listed buildings. However, local listing means that the interest of the building will be at least considered during the planning process. The effect of an application on a non-designated heritage asset is a material consideration when deciding planning applications, and local listing strengthens the case for retention of a historic building” (Chris Costelloe, Director of Victorian Society).
Hoping for a fitting future for the Memorial Ground
Thousands of local football fans, rugby fans, and other Bristolians, respect the war dead and would not dream of destroying a war memorial. But the custodian owners of the Memorial Stadium, apparently and as far as we know, still have plans to destroy it.
An unsuitable plan for the Mem would be a serious blunder because of the strength of local feeling about respecting the war dead, and about preserving their memorial for the benefit of today’s and future generations. Also, because the famous sports ground is a war memorial; because Historic England have designated the gates; because Bristol City Council have listed the Memorial Stadium as an Asset of Community Value and because the council do recognise its heritage value, and have added this war memorial sports ground to its Local List.
What does all this amount to?
Given the circumstances in which this famous sports ground was founded as a war memorial and the council’s decision to hold the centenary commemoration of the Battle of the Somme Remembrance Sunday event at the Memorial Ground, it remains to be seen if the ground’s owners will appreciate its true value, a value which reaches far beyond the simple price of land. Will they respect the Mem’s heritage and community value to Bristol, will they indeed respect the war dead – or not? Local listing etc recognises this.
Put bluntly: a war memorial is a war memorial. The custodian owners need to show that they appreciate the ‘true’ value of the Memorial Ground.
It cannot be said enough: Bristol’s Memorial Ground happens to be one of the most poignant and effective war memorials in the country.