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Over 40,000 visit Shoeburyness Poppies sculpture

Published Wednesday, 17th May 2017

Close up of Ceramic Poppies

Over 40,000 people have visited the Poppies: Wave sculpture in Shoeburyness in its first four weeks, beating official estimates and supporting the local visitor economy.

The sculpture is in Shoeburyness as part of 14-18 NOW’s UK-wide tour of the poppies.

From 12 April to 2 May inclusive 44,952 visitors, both local and overseas, have visited Poppies: Wave by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper, both to experience an artwork of international significance and reflect upon the lives lost in WW1. Official estimates had forecast 26,700 visitors for the same period.

Scott Dolling, Director of Culture, Tourism and Property: “Securing Poppies: Wave for Shoeburyness was a great boon for our town, shining a light on Shoeburyness’s rich military history, its important role during WW1 and commemorating the huge human sacrifices made.

“Notably, it is the only place in the South East to feature on the Poppies Tour and is succeeding in drawing new audiences to explore the East of our Borough and discover its fascinating history, which is hugely important for a visitor town like ours. It holds appeal for young and old alike and we’ve had primary school children and Cub Scout and Brownie groups, up to people in their 90s visiting the artwork and talking enthusiastically with our volunteers.

“I’m thrilled that the sculpture is proving so successful and proving such a draw to people of all ages and backgrounds. I’d urge anyone who hasn’t visited it yet to do so by 25 June.”

Jacqui Dallimore, Managing Director of Roslin Beach Hotel, who chairs the Southend Tourism Partnership, said: “Many of our members are reporting an increase in customer numbers compared to this time last year and I believe much of that can be put down to the Poppies sculpture.

“While there are clearly many people local to the South East coming for the day, we have had guests travelling from as far afield as America and many European destinations, who have come specifically to see the sculpture and then gone on to tour the rest of what our town has to offer.

“I have welcomed guests who have never been to Southend before, who have liked what they’ve seen and definitely plan to come back. That is crucial for a tourist town like Southend, where longer stays and repeat custom have a real impact on the local economy. I am looking forward to now reaching out to the many new destinations that are possible to fly to from Southend Airport to increase the visitor numbers in the years to come.

The presentations by 14-18 NOW - the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary - will give people across the UK the chance to experience the impact of the ceramic poppy sculptures in a range of places of particular First World War resonance. Wave is from the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red – poppies and original concept by artist Paul Cummins and installation designed by Tom Piper – by Paul Cummins Ceramics Limited in conjunction with Historic Royal Palaces. The installation was originally at HM Tower of London from August to November 2014 where 888,246 poppies were displayed, one to honour every death in the British and Colonial forces of the First World War.

Southend-on-Sea was the scene of one of the first air-raids attacks on the UK, and the Garrison at Shoeburyness was home to the first British ‘School of Gunnery and a test site for artillery gun shells used during WW1. In common with the rest of the country, many people from Southend-on-Sea also fought or acted as nursing staff, with many making the ultimate sacrifice.