Around 500 people welcomed the official unveiling of the Lincoln Tank Memorial on Tritton Road roundabout on Sunday, May 10, with honoured guests and relatives among them.
The poignant ceremony began after the crowd enjoyed an iconic Spitfire flypast from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
The £100,000 memorial is a representation of the Mark I Foster Tank, first designed and built in Lincoln in 1916, and placed close to the Wellington Foundry where it was produced.
Reminding visitors and residents of Lincoln of an important slice of the city’s history, the structure was gifted by the Lincoln Tank Memorial Group.
After around four years of planning and much-needed help and donations from local companies and organisations, the 4.8 tonne Corten steel memorial arrived on the site on April 24.
The striking design of the memorial pays tribute to the men and women who worked on the production line at William Foster and Co Lincoln.
The first prototype of the Mark I was produced in 1915, with full production commencing in 1916. It also pays homage to the designers and manufacturers William Tritton, William Rigby and Walter Wilson.
The memorial is intended to recognise the huge effort made by civilian men and women during both world wars, when the majority of production from the many factories in the city was switched to war work.
Among guests at the unveiling ceremony was Ray Mitchell, ex member of the Royal Tank Regiment. He said: “I was born in Lincoln in 1944 and I joined the 5th Royal Tank Regiment, which was a Lincolnshire regiment. I stayed with them until they disbanded in 1969.
“The 5th was very much a Lincoln regiment and lots of people came from Lincolnshire. The ceremony has been amazing and quite a coincidence. I joined on May 10 1952, so this is quite an occasion for me.”
Also attending, and having made arguably the longest journey to be there was Laverne Tritton, who figured out after a family holiday to Lincoln that he was a distant relative of the city’s tank manufacturer.
Laverne attended the event with his wife, two children and his granddaughter. He said: “My grandfather always used to say ‘our family invented the tank’, but that’s all I knew. We were visiting England when we heard about Tritton Road in Lincoln and came to have our pictures taken with the sign.
“I did a bit more research and when I found out I was a distant relative of William Tritton, I began making some calls and found the group secretary Julie Cooke. She could’t believe it and we’re now good friends.”
One of the main contractors for the memorial are Willmott Dixon Ltd who have been responsible for the considerable groundworks required for the memorial’s construction.
Other contractors involved include the Rilmac Group, who have produced and erected the tank and the figures, Venture Signs, who are responsible for the lettering and plaques and Continental Landscapes.
Joe Cooke MBE, Chairman of The Lincoln Tank Memorial Group, said: “I came to this beautiful city on 1966. As I stand here today, I would never have thought I’d be 49 years later opening this beautiful sculpture of the tank and the work force.
“We are giving this to the city and we would like people to respect it. It gives me great pride to celebrate the city’s engineering history and you are looking at nearly £100,000 of funding here.”
— Jakey (@lloydy95_) May 10, 2015