Village's Tommy silhouette gets new home at Bamburgh Castle

A poignant tribute to those who lost their lives in battle has been given a new home in the grand surroundings of Bamburgh Castle.

Wednesday, 13th November 2019, 2:28 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 4:40 pm
A Tommy 'there but not there' figure at Bamburgh.
A Tommy 'there but not there' figure at Bamburgh.

The Tommy silhouette, produced as part of the ‘There But Not There’ commemorations marking 100 years since the end of the First World War, had been in situ at the village war memorial over recent months.

However, it was no longer needed once the new war memorial and sculpture took its place in time for Remembrance Sunday.

The possibility of finding a permanent location for it was raised by local resident Gillian Bardgett at a meeting of Bamburgh Parish Council on Tuesday.

But parish council chairman Barbara Brook explained: “The Tommy was in place while the war memorial was being remade and it was a very popular figure.

“It was paid for by the Heritage Trust and ourselves so when it came to the time when it was no longer needed we contacted the Heritage Trust to ask them if they would like it and they said ‘no’.

“As a parish council we had nowhere for it to go and we were then approached by Bamburgh Castle to ask if Tommy went up the hill and we said that would be absolutely fine because at least he was being looked after.

“We also thought Bamburgh Castle Estates had helped us quite considerably with the new war memorial that it would be an apt and suitable place for it to be transferred to.”

The Tommy spent the Remembrance weekend on display in the castle’s chapel surrounded by a wreath and poppies but there are plans to build a permanent memorial by the aviation museum.

William Watson-Armstrong, the fifth generation of the family to own Bamburgh Castle, explained: “That’s where all the Bamburgh Heritage Trust work is on the lads whose names you read by the memorial. We would like to have a memorial with Tommy, all those names and the information boards.

“We didn’t take him on for commercial reasons, we took him because it’s important and he didn’t have a home. It’s not ours, it belongs to the village and if there is a feeling that he should by publicly accessible to everyone and not behind our locked gates then I completely understand that.”

St Aidan’s Church was suggested as a possible location and this will be investigated before reporting back to Bamburgh Castle by the end of November.

Coun Brook said: “The village needs a plan if they want it back. Somebody will have to look after it and I think, at the moment, it’s better to be housed at the castle until someone decides on something else.”