Volunteers help improve area behind Lions of the Great War statue

Published 2nd August 2019

Lions of the Great War statue

Volunteers have begun cleaning up an area behind the Lions of the Great War statue in Smethwick.

The landscaped mound near Rolfe Street Station is home to a water feature, Boulton and Watt’s Governor sculpture, pathways, seating and a circle of trees.

With the support of Sandwell Council, volunteers from Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Smethwick have started cleaning the paved area which had been partially covered in overgrowth and moss.

The benches are also being cleaned and the steel sculpture renovated and repainted. The fountain, which was replaced by the gurdwara in October 2018, has also been pumped out and cleaned.

The council will thin, lift and shape the circle of trees, to improve their appearance and contribute to community safety.

Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick's Jatinder Singh: "Lions of the Great War honours all those brave people from South Asia who served and died in the two world wars. Together with the newly-created paved public space, it also provides a stunning and symbolic gateway to Smethwick.

"We wanted to further improve the area behind the statue and, with the council's support, volunteers are working to have the project completed in the next two weeks."

Councillor Bob Lloyd, Sandwell Council's cabinet member with responsibility for culture, said: "This is a wonderful example of community volunteers working with the council to improve this area and keep it looking clean and tidy.

"As the backdrop to the awe-inspiring Lions of the Great War statue and public space, this is an area that has considerable significance for the gurdwara and wider community. I would like to thank everyone who has been involved and volunteered their time."

The Boulton and Watt conical pendulum governor was designed by James Watt and first manufactured at the Soho Foundry in Smethwick in 1788. It was used to regulate or govern the working speed of steam engines. The large steel replica of a governor was manufactured in 1985 by Hunt Bros at Griffin Foundry in nearby Oldbury.

The Lions of the Great War statue, which was unveiled in November 2018, features a 10-foot high bronze Sikh soldier standing on a six-foot granite plinth. It is the first full statue of a South Asian First World War soldier in the UK.

Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick commissioned Black Country sculptor Luke Perry to create the statue to honour the sacrifices made by South Asian service personnel of all faiths from the Indian subcontinent who fought for Britain in the Great War and other conflicts.

The gurdwara covered the cost of designing and building the statue, while Sandwell Council worked closely with the gurdwara to create a paved public space with seating and lighting.

Millions of men from the Indian subcontinent fought in the two world wars, serving in the British Indian Army. Most never visited the country they were fighting for, yet many sacrificed their lives on the battlefield or afterwards.