Tuesday 19 March 2019

"Futility" Statue Hamilton Square, Birkenhead, Wirral commemorating the 88 Pupils of the Birkenhead Institute who lost their lives in WW1

Several of us attended an extremely interesting talk held at The Wilfred Owen Story in Birkenhead, Wirral, UK on Monday, 18th March 2019 – the 126th anniversary of the birth of Wilfred Owen, WW1 soldier poet.  The talk was given by Jim Whelan, sculptor of the "Futility" statue in Hamilton Square commemorating the 88 pupils of the Birkenhead Institute school, among them Wilfred Owen, who lost their lives in WW1. The statue replaces the WW1 Memorial Playing Field that was the sports field for the school, which was sold for housing recently.

Jim also told us that he also made the amazing model of a WW1 Western Front Trench, which is on display at the WOS.

Jim brought along some of the models he used when he started his work on the statue, which took two and a half years to complete, and talked us through the complicated procedure involved. Cast in bronze at a Liverpool Foundry, the statue represents an exhausted World War One solider after a gas attack.  It was produced using a sketch drawn by a former pupil of the Birkenhead Institute who went on to become an art master at the school.  His name was Dave (D.S.W.) Jones and he drew the soldier to illustrate Wilfred Owen’s poem “Futlity” specially for Jeff Walsh’s book “A Tribute to Wilfred Owen”, published in 1965. Wilfred was a pupil at the B.I. from 1900 – 1907. 

Jim Whelan has also produced completed works to commemorate the Everest climbers George Malory and Sandy Irvine who disappeared on the North-East ridge during their attempt to make the first ascent of the mountain in 1924.

Afterwards, we walked over to the statue, which is set slightly apart from the main commemorative area in Hamilton Square, and Jim answered our questions about the statue.  You really have to try and see the statue – there is so much detail

Get the train to Liverpool Lime Street, then take the Ferry across the Mersey from Pier Head to Woodside.  Hamilton Square is a short walk up the hill, past the Hamilton Square Station. Obviously if you don't like the idea of the river crossing you can take the train from Lime Street to Hamilton Square station. 

The statue has its own Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/Futility-Statue-Birkenhead-2057633954320705/