Project grants/Photographing war memorials

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Basic information[edit | edit source]

Project Title (If applicable)
Photographing war memorials
Proposed by
Harry Mitchell (User:HJ Mitchell)
Are you currently a member of Wikimedia UK?
I'll renew as soon as I get round to it

Project description[edit | edit source]

Briefly describe the issue or problem that motivates this application. What needs are you meeting?

There are thousands of war memorials in Britain. Essentially every parish that existed a century ago will have some sort of memorial to the First World War—testament to the horrifying impact of the First World War and the industrial-scale slaughter that characterised it. Only 14 villages saw all of their men return from both world wars. War memorials had been around on a small scale for a few hundred years before the Fist World War, often commissioned to commemorate particularly heroic feats by individual regiments, and monuments to military leaders (Nelson's Column arguably the most famous among them) for centuries before that. The idea of memorials to the dead of individual communities began in the aftermath of the Boer War, o which around 1,000 memorials stand up and down Britain. However, the unprecedented carnage of the First World War prompted a national outpouring of grief and a desire by even the smallest communities to commemorate their dead, resulting in many thousands of memorials. While some communities opted for a functional memorial (often a building with a civic purpose dedicated as a war memorial), most opted for a monument of some sort. These take a remarkable variety of shapes and sizes, from small stone crosses to elaborate sculptures to cenotaphs and Leicester's memorial arch (one of the largest war memorials in England). Over 2,000 war memorials are listed buildings in England, and Historic England are running a project which aims to list an additional 500 a year from 2014 to 2019 which includes a presumption in favour of applications to list war memorials. The data for Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland does not seem to be easily accessible online. There is probably no better time for a project like these; the First World War memorials (which account for the great majority) are approaching a century old and with the centenary of the war are the focus of more public attention than at any time since their unveiling ceremonies.

The coverage of these memorials on Wikimedia projects is patchy at best—until recently, most of those in England listed at grade I didn't even have a Wikipedia article. Some, like the Cenotaph on Whitehall, have been quite comprehensively photographed; others lack photographs on Commons at all. Northampton War Memorial, for example, is a grade I listed building but the only freely licensed photograph of it is a low quality quality image that shows only the top of one of the obelisks. I have come up with a rough 'target list' of 92 war memorials that easily qualify for a Wikipedia article, and I have put in a separate grant request for books to write those articles; the list includes all those listed by Historic England at grade I or grade II*, and the remaining memorials by Sir Edwin Lutyens (who was arguably the most famous architect in the field, and who designed many of the most significant memorials including the Cenotaph on Whitehall). Here I am requesting a grant to travel round the country and photograph those 92 memorials, or as many of them as practicable. This will produce several outcomes:

  1. Significantly increase photographic coverage of war memorials
  2. Produce probably in excess of 1,000 freely licensed photographs for Commons
  3. Provide photographs for use in Wikipedia articles (I hope eventually to have a high-quality article on each of the 92, as well as several articles on broader subjects, lists, and other notable memorials; this would create a use for hundreds of photographs)
  4. Assist in the process of writing articles (when you're writing about architecture, there are some things that text simply can't convey; to have seen the memorial I'm writing about would make the process easier, and having multiple high-quality photographs available would assist other editors)
  5. Provide an opportunity to enthuse local Wikimedia communities
  6. Provide an opportunity for partnerships with other interested bodies
Describe project activities. What will you use the funding to do?
Conduct a comprehensive photographic survey of the war memorials listed at User:HJ Mitchell/War memorials; there are 92 there but I am excluding those in London due to the ease of travelling around London and the number of photographs we have of most of the London memorials. This will also provide an opportunity to study the memorials and their surrounding area, which will assist in writing Wikipedia articles. Along the way, there will be opportunities to generate enthusiasm in local Wikimedia communities. There may also be opportunities to link up with projects being run by other organisations around the First World War Centenary. The scope could be expanded to link up with the "Awaken the Dragon" project if the participants from that project can find or come up with a list of significant war memorials in Wales. This could kick off a Wiki Love Monuments-style project to improve the coverage of the remaining memorials, or such a project could be incorporated into WLM if the UK enters in 2016.
Describe your plan for evaluating this project. How will you measure success? What types of things will you measure (e.g. content, participants)?


  1. Number of photographs uploaded to Commons
  2. Number of photographs in use on Wikimedia projects (could be re-measured after a month, six months, a year)
  3. Number of Wikipedia articles using photographs from this project
  4. Number of Wikipedia articles using photographs from this project as the lead image
  5. Number of war memorials covered by this project
  6. Number of other things photographed en route
  7. Number of war memorials which have photographs on Commons solely because of this project
  8. Number of war memorials which had only Geograph photographs before this project, but because of it have higher-quality photographs
  9. Number of other Wikimedians linked up with along the way (may be small, but if WMUK is willing to fund meetups, could be greater)


  • The body of open knowledge of war memorials expands
  • Wikipedia articles on war memorials will be better illustrated
  • Wikipedia articles on war memorials will be predominantly illustrated by photographs from this project
  • Local editors will be enthused to research and write about war memorials in their area
  • Opportunities for partnerships or overlap with other projects
Identify key people involved in this project. How will or could the wider Wikimedian community be involved?
  • Key people: me (Harry Mitchell); Chris McKenna (User:Thryduulf)
  • Others: there is potential to link up with other Wikimedians en route; several may be able to offer a place for us to stay
  • Opportunities for meetups in major cities en route
  • Opportunities for partnering with other bodies
  • Opportunity for much greater community involvement with a broader project to photograph many more war memorials
If applicable, identify partnering organisations for this project (not essential)
  • Historic England
  • The War Memorials Trust
  • The Lutyens Trust
  • The Imperial War Museum
  • Cadw (if we extend the scope to Wales)

If you feel that there is more information that could be for example resources needed, how successes can be measured, and how it fits in with the aims of Wikimedia and Wikimedia UK. Please note that these answers don't have to be definite now, and can be expanded on in conversation with the programme team.

What targets have you set? What will you measure?
Answered above
What contribution will the project make to our strategic goals?
Relevant to G1.1 and G1.2, contributes to G5 with minimal expansion of scope to involve linking up with local communities
Who will be recording/measuring the project metrics, and writing up a project report?
Yours truly
What staff support is being requested?
Minimal; some contacting/liaising with potential partners
How can you get other volunteers involved? What roles could they have?
Answered above
What meeting or other space is needed?
Are other resources needed (such as computers, books, camera equipment, food, contacts, infrastructure)? How will they be sourced?
Small fund for subsistence while on the road; use of WMUK's DSLR would be handy and might allow for higher quality photographs
If any partner organisations have been identified, have they been contacted and are they committed?
Not yet
Does this project require more extensive funding? What would any WMUK funds be used for?
It will require more than £250. The budget will contribute to car hire, fuel, and some subsistence while on the road. We hope to stay with family and friends (including fellow Wikipedians) en route and avoid the need to pay for accommodation, thus keeping the budget under control
Are external funds needed that we can apply for? If so where will they be sought?
It's possible that the potential partner organisations above might be willing to contribute funds, but I have no idea what their processes might be. The amounts of money involved might be too trivial to interest them.
Are there any resources that you can contribute? Such as equipment.
Two Wikipedians with their own cameras and extensive experience of photography for Wikipedia and writing Wikipedia articles

Discussion[edit source]

Fantastic proposal. Looks a really exciting prospect driving around the country photographing them all!! If this could compliment the Awaken the Dragon contest somehow and you do Wales too this would be great.Dr. Blofeld (talk) 22:32, 4 February 2016 (GMT)

If this did extend to Wales and WMUK covered that we could aim to get the ones listed at here photographed too. Photograph all of the war memorials and as you go from village to village try to get some of the missing listed buildings too if it doesn't require too much extra effort. Sionk and Ham should have a fuller list of missing photos by the end of the month. Over 1000 photographs on this would go an enormous way to improving the comprehension of the site and no doubt articles would be created on them all eventually. Exciting times.Dr. Blofeld (talk) 22:48, 4 February 2016 (GMT)

If you or anyone is aware of buildings (listed or otherwise) near any of the eixsting list of targets at User:HJ Mitchell/War memorials that need (more or better) photographs for Commons, please add them to the "Nearby" field for that target so we know about them when planning detailed routes. Likewise, if you know of any access or other issues, please update relevant parts of the table - doubly so if you have contacts at any of the places where access will need to be arranged in advance. Thryduulf (talk: local | en.wp | en.wikt) 22:56, 4 February 2016 (GMT)

Hi Harry, really good idea. Just one question, have you tried to source existing openly licensed images of the memorials missing pictures on Commons from Flickr or elsewhere? Stuart Prior (WMUK) (talk) 16:46, 11 February 2016 (GMT)

I've tried emailing Flickr users and owners of other photos I've found—I've been doing a lot of Google image searches because it's hard to write an article about a physical object when all you have is a written description—but I've had no responses. Likewise with a couple of local history societies and hobby sites. I've also scoured Geograph and imported a few photos from there to Commons, which has come up trumps a few times, but these tend to be low resolution and poor quality—take this one of Northampton's (a grade I listed building and one the most impressive memorials for a town) for example. To follow your line of thought a little further, the list at User:HJ Mitchell/War memorials (and Chris's excellent map) is divided by priority so that we can aim to fill in the most gaping holes and fill in others where possible on the way rather than travelling huge distances for something that's already well covered. Harry Mitchell (talk) 22:17, 11 February 2016 (GMT)
Excellent. A couple of other things occur to me; you could recruit editors around the country to photograph memorials local to them; a quick search reveals loads within walking distance of where I live in Hackney (apologies if this has already been suggested somewhere else, it seems fairly obvious). But also, the visiting of places w/memorials could also serve other projects collecting images of local objects/buildings and provide valuable content for them. I don't want to encourage mission creep, but if there are opportunities for maximising the amount of content gathered in one location without it taking too much time/cost, it would make sense to use them. Not to create or expand articles, but the uploads could be useful to others if they were notified. Stuart Prior (WMUK) (talk) 11:46, 17 February 2016 (GMT)
Actually Stuart, you're the first person to suggest it, but I had thought of it. Charles Matthews was kind enough to take a detour via Fordham to take a few photos of the memorial there and those in Exeter and Plymouth I can do relatively easily (it's a day trip for me, so just requires me to have a free day when the weather's reasonable; the last couple of times I've been down there it's been atrocious). I have a close friend (not a Wikipedian) in York I've asked to snap the memorials there but she hasn't got round to it yet and she only has an iPhone, and I've asked Clem Rutter to see if he can get to the three(?) Lutyens memorials in Kent but he hasn't had a free day with good enough weather yet. And yes, several of the memorials are within spitting distance of other significant buildings/structures; Lutyens did a lot of work in Busbridge and Mells for example, and neither village is well covered. Where it's easy to get photos of other things, we'll do our best, but obviously we have to be mindful of time and money, which is also why we're dividing the memorials by priority. Harry Mitchell (talk) 15:50, 17 February 2016 (GMT)

This is an exciting project and will work well in conjunction with Project grants/Books on war memorials. You've done/are doing a lot of research and I'm glad you plan to prioritise the gaps in coverage to maximise output. I'm not surprised that you've struggled to get anywhere with licensing existing photographs online, as I've had similar experiences; sometimes there is just no substitute for going to the place and taking the pictures yourself. Given the level of effort going into this, I would definitely recommend taking a higher-end camera (such as a DSLR) with you to get the best results. Wikimedia UK's Canon EOS 60D should preform well with its 18MP APS-C image sensor, even if its just used in auto mode. Make sure to have your memberships renewed for when the project starts as equipment is no longer generally loaned to non-members. Overall, I'm inclined to back this, but I will need to see a draft itinerary and a budget breakdown (not to the penny) before giving this proposal my formal support. CT Cooper · talk 03:19, 17 February 2016 (GMT)

Hi Chris. Chris (M) and I came up with a rough route along the A1 from London, which is easy because we both have friends/family along the route, and takes in quite a few memorials: Ashwell (to priority), the three in Cambridgeshire (1 top, 2 mid), Grantham (high), Worksop (high), Retford (mid), York (3, all high), possibly Stockton and Saltburn (both mid), possibly Newcastle (1 mid, 1 low), Hartburn (high), and Lindisfarne (high); possibly returning via the M1 to take in Leeds, Huddersfield, Rugby, and Northampton (all top priority) and possibly Derby and Leicester (low priority but spitting distance from the motorway), Stretton-on-Dunsmore (high), and Coventry (mid).

That's potentially 750 miles for 24 memorials, plus other things close-by. Assuming 25p/mile for fuel (which will probably be a bit less depending on fuel efficiency) that's not quite £190, plus the cost of car hire, for at least 24 memorials plus anything else we can get along the route. From that I would anticipate over 100 good-quality photos, many of which will be almost immediately used in articles and others will follow as the article-writing project progresses. This could be scaled back to take in fewer locations for a smaller budget; Lindisfarne accounts for a lot of the miles, being so remote from any of the other targets, but the memorial there only has two low-quality Geograph photos and there are several other interesting things on the island. Harry Mitchell (talk) 15:50, 17 February 2016 (GMT)

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly, Harry. That seems like a reasonable plan to me. How much roughly are you expecting to pay for car hire? CT Cooper · talk 21:18, 22 February 2016 (GMT)
The biggest variables in the cost of car hire are the number of days, dates, and size of car. Booking other than at the last minute is also recommended. For a ballpark figure for a 7-day hire (Tuesday 10am - Tuesday 9am, cars are priced by 24 hours or part thereof); we may be able to do this journey in fewer days I don't have the details we worked out to hand) for the last week of May, collecting from London within the M25 (airports can be cheaper but you need to add time and money spend getting there and back), booked today quotes for a compact car (minimum recommended for the distances involved) quotes vary between £128 and and £227 from the deal finder (it can sometimes be cheaper to go direct, but it's not worth the time searching until precise dates are known; the car rental market is both competitive and complex). That broker's insurance protection deal costs ~£10/day (on one occasion I managed to negotiate this to £5/day) and refunds all out of pocket expenses for damage, etc. although you do have to pay them upfront and I have heard varying reports about how quick they are to refund. Whether that is a better or worse deal than the supplier's will vary. A second driver will typically be £8-15/day, but I don't think Harry drives and I suspect on this occasion the limiting speed will be the time for photography rather than hours driven by one person in a day, and I will be planning the trip to avoid driving too far (tiredness causes accidents).
To put all that into a single figure, I would expect to pay less than £300 for the trip described above, possibly considerably less. Having a maximum budget to work to for me to arrange the hire will probably work out best unless WMUK has access to discounts as a charity. Thryduulf (talk: local | en.wp | en.wikt) 15:56, 23 February 2016 (GMT)
Thank you Chris for your input. That's a helpful overview and I understand why putting an exact figure on these things just isn't possible at the moment. All in all, I'm inclined to support this proposal for a budget of £300 – lower would be better but you're right to put safety and practicality first. CT Cooper · talk 21:36, 9 March 2016 (GMT)
Based on the recommendation from the Evaluation Panel, the budget holder has approved this grant.

Agnes Bruszik(WMUK) 10:36, 19 October 2017 (BST)