War poet Wilfred Owen’s first steps re-enacted to mark anniversary

Wilfred Owen's arrival for treatment in Edinburgh was re-enacted by David Clarke.
Wilfred Owen's arrival for treatment in Edinburgh was re-enacted by David Clarke.
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Great War poet Wilfred Owen’s first steps in Edinburgh have been re-enacted to mark 100 years to the day since he arrived in the city.

Owen arrived from London by train on June 26, 1917 after being sent to be treated for shell shock at Craiglockhart War Hospital. It is there he met anti-war poet Siegfried Sassoon, who would become a close friend and have a massive effect on his work.

Peter Owen, nephew of Wilfred Owen and ambassador of the Wilfred Owen Association, said: “Wilfred Owen’s poetry has influenced poets of all times and ages. This legacy was only made possible through a meeting of minds with Siegfried Sassoon at Craiglockhart.

“If Wilfred has an afterlife, no aspect would have pleased him more than the way his words have been used and modified by poets that came after him. Both Auden and Spender were influenced by Wilfred. Edmond Blunden wrote of him and his poems.

“A poet’s poet, Wilfred said of himself, but he would have never dreamed of his ever-growing legacy. This all began here in Edinburgh, at Craiglockhart, now Edinburgh Napier University. Oh, how Wilfred would appreciate and be very grateful and pleased by the honour of being welcomed here. All those involved who have spent so much time planning this need to be thanked many times.”

It was at Craiglockhart, now part of Edinburgh Napier’s Craiglockhart campus, that Owen wrote two of his most-revered poems – Dulce Et Decorum Est and Anthem For Doomed Youth.

The re-enactment event took place at Waverley Station and along Princes Street yesterday morning as a programme of events to commemorate the centenary continued. Arriving at platform seven on the Caledonian Sleeper, the event saw Owen, played by historian and teacher David Clarke, welcomed by Lord Provost Frank Ross and Norman Drummond, chairman of the First World War Commemoration panel.

The party was accompanied by Owen’s nephew, Peter, who made the train journey to be part of the centenary commemorations.

Owen’s initial journey along Princes Street was replicated with the sound of pipers accompanying the group.

They gathered outside the Caledonian Hotel – a location where Owen regularly met “the great and good” of the city during his time there.

Event organiser Neil McLennan said: “It is pleasing to see so many come together to commemorate this vital part of Edinburgh’s literary history.

“The co-operation of so many organisations and individuals is perhaps the legacy we want to learn and share from WW100 Commemoration events.”