A century ago, not even four years after the Great War ended, London Waterloo station’s Victory Arch was opened to pay tribute to the railway colleagues who fought and died for their country.
The ceremony, led by Queen Mary – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s grandmother – also marked the end of a long, 20-year rebuilding of the station by the London and South Western Railway, leaving the station with much the same layout as it is today (see notes).
Yesterday (Monday, 21 March) the arch was rededicated by the Reverend Christopher Henley, Railway Chaplain, supported by a host of senior colleagues from the London and South Western Railway’s successors at Network Rail and South Western Railway, along with those from the Railway Heritage Trust, British Transport Police and the armed forces.
Network Rail Southern region managing director John Halsall said: “Most people travelling through Waterloo probably don’t give the Victory Arch a moment’s thought, but you only have to stop and look at the names to see the sheer scale of the loss of life, and the huge sacrifices made by the people of the railway and their families. By rededicating the arch today we’re paying tribute not just to them but all those who lost their lives in war. I’m proud to be working for the same railway they did.”
South Western Railway’s Managing Director Claire Mann said: “Today brought home to me how all of us working in the rail industry are carrying on a tradition, following in the footsteps of thousands of people before us. Rededicating the Victory Arch and seeing the names on the walls reinforces how special this is. It’s important we don’t just reflect on the past, but to use it to inspire us to carry on the tradition of selflessness and dedication that our predecessors possessed.”
The event featured a number of readings and poems, as well as a musical performance by the brilliant Year 6 group from one of our local schools, Oasis Academy Johanna. The last post was sounded at 1100.
Photo credit: Network Rail