Battle lost over war memorial

A bid to list Newton Mearns war memorial as a site of special interest has been turned down by Historic Scotland, to the disappointment of enthusiasts.

Councillor Ian McAlpine approached the agency on behalf of East Renfrewshire Council following improvements to the Mearns Cross memorial by the British Legion Newton Mearns.

The Newton Mearns South representative told The Extra: “I believe the cenotaph is significant, as do residents, and I was hoping that the area would be protected and listed. This would have preserved the war memorial and gardens for another 100 years.

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“It’s a very important site in Eastwood as it is the only war memorial, and it means a lot to people. I know the British Legion branch in Newton Mearns are particularly upset as they spent a lot of time and resources to greatly improve the gardens and walls in 2014.”

Eastwood MSP Ken Macintosh commented that he was unhappy with the decision, adding: “This memorial deserves to be fully protected and should have been listed to preserve the area for future generations.”

A spokesman for Historic Scotland responded: “Our role was to assess whether the memorial met the criteria laid down by Scottish Historic Environment Policy — that, of the many thousand surviving war memorials across the country, only those of special architectural or historic interest should be listed.

“Although this particular structure did not meet the strict criteria, this is not a reflection on its role as an object to commemorate the sacrifices made in Newton Mearns during World War One.

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“It should also be remembered that listing is not intended to prevent development, but instead to act as a signal in the planning process that there is special interest which may need to be taken into account.”

The memorial, erected at the former Mearns Primary in the 1920s, moved to the cross 15 years ago. It has, in recent years, received the attention of Mearns History Group, who investigated the names included on the cenotaph — and those left off who also perished in WW1.