Sunnyside war memorial worries

The memorial
The memorial

A concerned reader has written to the Review worried about the fate of a war memorial sited in the grounds of Sunnyside Royal Hospital.

It lists the names of eight Sunnyside personnel who gave their lives for their country in the First World War and the reader fears the large stone memorial may be at risk from the wrecking ball or JCB with the former health unit being up for sale and the demolition of some of its buildings on the cards unless a permanent safe site can be found.

Another concern is as the whole site has gone on the market, the memorial may be off limits to visitors.

It had been suggested that perhaps it could be relocated to Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre, but Dr Dan Paton, curator, says due to strict rules by which the museum is bound to it is not the appropriate venue for the memorial as it has no connection with aviation history.

He said: “The news that there is a danger of the distinctive war memorial in the ground of Sunnyside hospital being lost in future redevelopment is saddening. I am sure that most people would want to see it saved. As we commemorate the centenary of the First World War we are reminded of the terrible sacrifice of human life which led to the creation of war memorials.

“The Heritage Centre certainly supports efforts to remember and honour the war dead and a reason for its existence is to commemorate the men and women who served there through two World Wars.

“The centre is now an accredited museum and that means that it has been assessed by the body that governs all museums in Scotland and has to confirm to a stringent set of rules and practices. These require the centre to set out clearly a collections policy which defines the kind of things the museum can accept into its collection. We are confined to things that have a direct link to the history of the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force at Montrose, over the period in which the air station was operational.

“The war memorial at Sunnyside clearly does not fit these criteria and the Heritage Centre would be unable to accept it on these grounds alone.”

He added: “War memorials are, in any case, specific to a time and place which is what gives them meaning. They are more than just stones with a few carved names. The names of the men on the Sunnyside memorial are linked to that institution. They cannot be transplanted to somewhere else which has nothing to do with their lives, which were cut short.

“The threat to the Sunnyside memorial is, sadly, not uncommon. Buildings like schools and churches often have war memorials. When, as is bound to happen, they are closed and demolished what becomes of these memorials? Can we really expect them all to be saved?

“I am sure local people in Hillside will want to save the Sunnyside memorial and I know that Rosemount School has a project to find more about the men whose names are on the village war memorial. The solution has to lie with the community, close to where the memorial stands.”