The Midland Railway War Memorial, Derby

The next time that you’re on your way to Matlock Bath by train (as I’m sure you will be shortly!) you may find that you have to spend an hour or so at Derby Station, before changing trains.  If you ask politely, the Station staff will be only too happy to allow you out of the station to make what Pevsner would have called a perambulation of the City.

One of the first things you come to will be this – 

– a war memorial, designed by Sir Edward Lutyens.  Judging by the number of names on it (2,833) you might think that it represents the war dead of the City of Derby, or perhaps of the Derbyshire Regiment.  In fact, it is the memorial to the employees of the Midland Railway.

An unusual feature is that the figure on top of the pillar is almost invisible from the ground, but appears to be a dead, shrouded soldier.

 This reminds me a little of Mark Wallinger’s sculpture “Ecce Homo” – a life-size figure of Christ that briefly featured on top of one of the plinths in Trafalgar Square a couple of years ago – the more moving because, at first sight, it appeared quite negligible.

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