Gardens set for permanent memorial to city’s war dead

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A PERMANENT memorial to Edinburgh’s fallen war heroes is to be created in Princes Street Gardens.

A fundraising campaign to build a lasting memorial to the war dead, likely to be in the form of a garden of remembrance, is set to be launched later this year.

City council chiefs have been investigating the idea for several years but progress has been slowed by the pressure on public finances.

Now it has emerged that designs are expected to be finalised in the coming months and a fundraising campaign could begin by the summer.

Council chiefs hope they will be in the position to formally launch the fundraising drive on Armed Forces Day in June.

The proposals have been backed by veterans’ groups, who say it is time that all Edinburgh’s war heroes up to the present day are commemorated.

Neil Griffiths, a spokesman for the Royal British Legion Scotland, said: “This is wonderful news because Edinburgh has nowhere similar. Although it has memorials, it does not have a garden of remembrance.

“Casualties since 1945 need to be recognised and if this comes together with a garden of remembrance in Princes Street Gardens it would be a fitting tribute for those that paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

The Royal British Legion created a temporary garden of remembrance on Remembrance Day last year and the interest in that gives Mr Griffiths confidence that the money could be raised.

He said: “I’ve no doubt that people will support it, given that 11,000 people were willing to spend £5 on a poppy cross in November, and I have no doubt the Edinburgh public would give their support.”

Full details have not yet been given of the form of the memorial, which is expected to be spread across different plots between the three shelters on the upper level of the gardens, but it is likely to include a garden and a memorial or statue.

The council put out a tender notice in 2008 for the scheme. It was estimated at the time that the contractor would be likely to charge around £500,000 but detailed designs have never been revealed.

Conservative councillor Gordon Buchan, who first proposed the idea, said: “I think it is important that we do not just think of it as being for distant service, it is for people serving now and in the future as well.”

Separate proposals for a memorial arboretum remain on hold, despite a site between Greendykes and Edmonstone having been identified.

Lord Provost George Grubb said: “Edinburgh has a long tradition of supporting its servicemen and women and, as a council, we are fully behind the idea of a new memorial.

“Princes Street Gardens would make a very fitting location and we will shortly be looking at finalising the designs, with a view to launching an appeal for public subscriptions in the coming months.”