I have been to … see the poppies at the Tower of LondonPosted: November 5, 2014
By way of a change we decided to go to central London by the Thames Clipper service, which runs from Woolwich Arsenal to central London at peak times in the morning and evening. (There is an all-day service from North Greenwich to the London Eye as well as several commuter routes.)
We arrived at Woolwich Arsenal Pier …
in plenty of time to catch the 9.20am service from Woolwich Arsenal to Tower Millennium. From the Pier we had a great view of the River Thames.
Beside the sight of the massive office blocks at Canary Wharf, …
… we could see the Woolwich ferries making their way backwards and forwards across the river.
We could also see – and hear – the passenger aircraft landing and taking off from London City Airport.
Bang on time, one of the Thames Clipper catamarans arrived at the Pier …
… and within a matter of minutes we were sailing through the Thames Barrier.
Our first stop was at the O2 (the old Millennium Dome) at North Greenwich.
After some more passengers had boarded the Clipper, she sailed on to her next stop – Greenwich Pier – which was just past the old Royal Naval Hospital, Greenwich.
(The building is now the main campus of Greenwich University.)
We soon left Greenwich behind us …
… and reached Tower Bridge …
… just under forty minutes after boarding the Clipper.
The advantage of disembarking at Tower Millennium was its proximity to the Tower of London, and within a matter of minutes we were able to see the poppies that have been ‘planted’ in the Tower’s moat.
The sight was truly awesome … and the poppies almost filled the moat that surrounds the Tower.
It is little wonder that this temporary memorial has attracted so many visitors. It is something that has to be seen to be really appreciated, and when the final poppies are added by 11th November, it will be truly magnificent.
For the benefit of non-UK blog readers, a short explanation about this memorial is probably helpful.
The wearing of a poppy was adopted in 1921 to commemorate soldiers who have died during the First World War. The choice was inspired by the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’, and they were first used by the American Legion to commemorate American soldiers who had died. The poppy was later adopted by military veterans’ groups in parts of the former British Empire, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The annual ‘sale’ of paper poppies has been a major source of income for the Royal British Legion in the UK. (Before 1971 it was known as the British Legion). The poppy is not ‘sold’ for a pre-set price; it is given in return for a donation made to the Royal British Legion‘s funds.
The poppies that have been ‘planted’ in the moat around the Tower of London are part of a huge art installation entitled ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’. It marks the centenary of the start of Britain’s involvement in the First World War, and it was created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins. When the installation is complete by 11th November 2014, 888,246 ceramic poppies – each of which represents a British military fatality during the war – will fill the Tower’s moat.
The poppies each cost £25.00 to ‘buy’, and the money raised will be shared equally amongst six service charities:
- Cobseo (The Confederation of Service Charities): This confederation is dedicated to the goal of maximising the charitable support given to the Armed Forces Community through the co-operation, co-ordination, and collaboration of the organisations working in the Service Charity sector.
- Combat Stress: The UK’s leading military charity that specialises in the care of Veterans’ mental health, treating conditions including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety.
- Coming Home: This is the fundraising campaign for the Haig Housing Trust, which provides specially adapted homes for seriously injured and disabled Servicemen, and the general needs housing of ex-Servicemen and their families.
- Help for Heroes: This charity inspires, enables, and supports those who have made sacrifices on our behalf in order to help them to achieve their full potential.
- The Royal British Legion: This is the UK’s largest Armed Forces charity, and it provides care and support to all members of the British Armed Forces – past and present – and their families.
- SSAFA (Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmen’s Families Association): This charity provides lifelong support to anyone who is currently serving or has ever served in the Royal Navy, British Army or Royal Air Force and their families.