Legion and Birmingham City Council unveil WW1 Chelsea design

By on 12/05/2014 in Culture, Deputy Leader, News

  • The Royal British Legion, Birmingham City Council and Thrive collaborate on show-stopping design
  • Floral designs created by ex-soldiers from Birmingham

The Royal British Legion and Birmingham City Council have unveiled a spectacular WW1 themed design to be displayed at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show from 20 – 24 May as part of the centenary commemorations.

In partnership with Birmingham City Council’s Parks department and horticultural charity Thrive, the garden has been designed to give a moving tribute to honour the Servicemen and women who fell in the Great War.
Inspired by the events of WW1, the show-stopping design - made entirely from flowers and sustainable materials - tells a story of battle, from trench warfare to fighting in the skies. The garden also features floral representations of goods made in Birmingham to help the war effort including Hudson whistles, famously used to signal troops ‘over the top’ of the trenches and the Birmingham Small Arms Company folding bike.

The ‘City of Birmingham’ train, which once transported wounded soldiers to the city’s military hospitals, is seen recreated out of flowers while at the centre, five gigantic poppies will tower above the display to form a waterfall.
Darren Share, Head of Parks for Birmingham City Council, said:

“This year’s Chelsea Flower Show offered the perfect opportunity to design a display that would commemorate 100 years since Britain entered the First World War.

“As a manufacturing hub, Birmingham played a key role in the war effort - a wide variety of goods made in the city were used by troops on the frontline. In partnership with The Royal British Legion and Thrive, we have created a display which aims to tell the story of Birmingham's vital contribution to the Great War.”

The floral display has been created with help from national charity Thrive, which runs a local project in Birmingham which is funded by the Legion and uses horticulture as a route to recovery for veterans with mental and physical health issues. Local veterans have designed and built the display which will be showcased at the critically-acclaimed flower show this May.
Jane Britton, the Legion’s Area Manager in the West Midlands, said:
“As the nation’s custodian of Remembrance, the Legion has a special role to play in this year’s Centenary commemorations.

“Our Chelsea Flower Show display is a moving tribute to the men of Birmingham that gave their lives in the Service of our country - and serves as a poignant reminder of the work our brave Servicemen and women do today.

“Formed in 1921 to help those who had suffered as a result of Service in the Great War, the Legion remains as relevant as ever today, spending £1.6million a week delivering welfare services for members of the Armed Forces community most in need.”

Following the Chelsea Flower Show the display will be featured at Gardener’s World Live at The National Exhibition Centre from 12-15 June before being recreated in a high profile site in Birmingham where it will remain until the end of September.
Display features

Hudson whistles
Hudson whistles, made by J. Hudson & Co. - now know as ACME whistles - were famously used in WW1 to signal troops over the top of the trenches. Made in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, the whistles made a significant contribution to the war – the Army had a system where they would use different whistles to co-ordinate movement and signal danger.
Birmingham Small Arms company (BSA)
BSA made a major contribution to Britain’s war effort manufacturing military firearms, bicycles, motorcycles, cars, power and machine tools from their headquarters in Small Heath. BSA play a key role in armament production during the Great War, producing many types of guns and cartridges, including the Lewis Gun, that was used extensively in WW1.

BSA folding bike
BSA produced bicycles for both the police and the military during WW1. Its most famous military bicycle, named the ‘folding bike’ was designed so that soldiers could fold up the bike and carry it on their back when needed.
The Birmingham Pals
‘The Birmingham Pals’ was a term used to refer to three battalions of The Royal Warwickshire Regiment formed of men volunteering for national service in Birmingham during 1914. They became respectively the 14th, 15th and 16th battalions of the regiment which gained 80 Battle Honours and won six Victoria Crosses during the First World War.
‘City of Birmingham’ hospital train
Throughout WW1, railway companies converted existing stock into sophisticated travelling hospitals. The ‘City of Birmingham’ was one of such ambulance trains used for the repatriation of wounded soldiers. In Birmingham, hospital trains would transport the wounded to large military hospitals, such as the 1st Southern General Hospital based at The University of Birmingham, that were developed to treat the flood of casualties coming back to England.

Poppy waterfall feature
The poppy waterfall feature nods to The Royal British Legion and its emblem as the national Custodian of Remembrance - the red poppy. 


For media information about Birmingham City Council's Parks department or to arrange an interview with Darren Share, Head of Parks, contact Debbie Harrison, Press and PR Officer at Birmingham City Council on 0121 303 4476.

For further information, pictures or to arrange an interview with Jane Britton, The Royal British Legion's West Midlands Area Manager, contact Ellie Rance, PR Officer, E: erance@britishlegion.org.uk, T: 0333 011 4189, M: 07826910266

See https://flic.kr/s/aHsjY3mexf for pics

Notes to Editors:

As the nation's leading Armed Forces charity, The Royal British Legion spends £1.6 million a week, or £84 million a year, on vital welfare work, providing social, emotional and financial care and support to serving and ex-Service people and their families. The Legion is also the national Custodian of Remembrance and safeguards the Military Covenant between the nation and its Armed Forces. It is best known for the annual Poppy Appeal and its emblem, the red poppy. http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/

The Legion's national Contact Centre is open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week.  Call us on 0808 802 8080 (calls are free from UK landlines and main mobile networks.)

The Legion's online information service can be accessed via the Legion website:  http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/

For details of the First World War commemorations in Birmingham please visit – http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/ww1

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