Monday 22 November 2010

Shrines, what shrines?

Following a project of the week earlier this month to add Memorials we added a few. In order to some idea where there might be war memorials we could survey I googled 'war memorials' and came up with the UK National Inventory of War Memorials which is supported by the Imperial War Museum.

I expected to find a few memorials in Hull, but there were pages and pages of them. Looking closer, many entries were individual memorials attached to grave stones, so I'm ignoring these. Most of what remained were street shrines, which I'd not heard of. The database has a field to enter any reference relating to each entry and most of the Hull ones seem to have come from a single book: HULL STREET SHRINES AND ROLL'S OF HONOUR (sic) by M&M Mann.

I tried to find out more about the book and discovered it was in the local library reference section, which is part of the Hull History Centre. The Hull History Centre is a friendly place, allowing laptops in and providing easy access to their books and map and a complete contrast to the East Yorkshire Treasure House which is plagued by stupid rules (you need a PAT test certificate before you can take a laptop in for example). We went to take a look in the History Centre.

It turned out to be a bit of an odd book. There was no reference information about the book at all, no publisher, no ISBN, no copyright or publishing date and it had been bound by the Hull Library Service. There were indeed a long list of the street shrines in the book, but almost all of it was a series of copies of newspaper cuttings with some that are hard to read being transcribed. These clippings were mostly about the ceremonies to mark the erection of street shrines to commemorate local men who had been killed in the 1914-18 war. There were also articles about how these shrines didn't mention all of the people killed, mostly because they were erected before the end of the war, so more people needed to be added by its end.

One important thing that the web site authors seem to have missed is the introduction. Here, in a bit of a ramble, Malcolm Mann explains that all but six of the shrines no longer exist, for a variety of reasons. He describes the six shrines that do exist, so today we set off to look for them. After searching for four of them in the rain and with the daylight fading fast we gave up. There was no sign of the shrines we looked for. I was expecting to be able to add these to OSM and produce a simple overlay to possibly help the web site. I can show conventional war memorials so maybe that will be useful.

I contacted the web site authors to see if they need any help in our area, but I've not had any response yet. I wonder if they want to include these shrines since they don't exist on the ground and many have not done so for nearly eighty years.

1 comment:

gom1 said...

Ah, great minds and all that. I found the UKNIWM as well the other day, and I've been trying to scrape it for local memorials that need finding and adding to the map. I've pulled about 1,100 from around here (Bucks, Berks, Oxon). About half seem to be boards inside buildings, or books - so not really mappable. But there are about 100 crosses and various other outside monuments. Next task is to work out which missing ones I can reach on the bike then it looks as though I'll have some winter outings sorted.