Campaigners hope that a new memorial to those killed in the Birmingham pub bombings in 1974 will help to “heal the fracture” between communities in Birmingham. The memorial is going to be unveiled in Birmingham on Wednesday Nov 21st.
Julie Hambleton, spokesperson for the Justice for the 21 campaign, whose sister Maxine Hambleton was one of those killed in the pub bombings, said:
“One of the original [campaign]issues was to try and rebuild the strong community that Birmingham had always had with the Irish community prior to the 21st of November 1974.
“We started to have meetings to talk about a new memorial to not only remember our loved ones but to collaborate with the Irish community to rebuild the serious fracture that had taken hold through the last 44 years.”
The sculpture is the work of artist Anu Patel who also designed part of the Birmingham Peace garden.
Anu wants the sculpture, gold and silver trees with the names of the 21 killed on its leaves, to appeal to all ages, particularly the young. She said:
“The memorial is an oasis, a forest in an urban area sited in between the two pubs that were bombed so it’s a prime location. People will see it, it’s in the heart of the city.”
“It has a total of 18 leaves with 21 names of all the people who were killed. It’s a project that’s been going on for a couple of years.
Anu had been working with Network Rail when the Irish community began contributing to the project.
“We started to have conversations about how it could also become a memorial to the bombings.”
Birmingham City Council included a requirement to have a sculpture as part of the layout of the station, says Anu.
“There had been many discussions about a memorial in the past and it was the right time for something to come through, all the enthusiasm was there and they wanted to make it happen”.
“[I want people to think and feel] it’s a place of recognition, a context where they can go and be. It can also inform people who are unaware of it. It works on many different levels. In a forest, things are hidden and you need to walk around them so you will see them. It’s not austere – I needed it to feel alive”
Maurice Malone, CEO of Birmingham Irish Association, who has been driving the memorial project says the memorial is an opportunity to recognise those people who lost their lives that night.
“[The memorial will] also offer some peace and hope moving forward to say that [although]these devastating events that happen to communities and cities, you can recover.”
The new sculpture will stand outside New St station on Smallbrook Queensway, between where The Mulberry Bush and Tavern in the Town pubs which were bombed were situated.