Karen Allerton arts
Kingsway Park Gun Emplacement - Trafford Park, Commissioned by The Friends of Kingsway Park - Karen Allerton and Tracey Cartledge
Cast stone seating elements with cast bronze and laser cut stainless steel floor pieces. The position is within the site of the former anti-aircraft battery that operated here in 1940. The design refers to radar, rangefinder and searchlight equipment that was operated to ascertain speed and position of approaching enemy aircraft. Historical information about the site and its role in the War Effort is presented in both text and image as part of the design.
We worked in collaboration with Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council Parks Department, Community Forests North West, The Friends of Kingsway Park, The Imperial War Museum (North), three local schools, World War II veterans and many local residents.
The site is a large open public space, surrounded by houses. During the Second World War the site housed an anti-aircraft battery with four gun emplacements and predictor equipment. (The cast iron fixings can still be seen there today). The gun emplacement was there to protect factories such as Metropolitan Vickers in nearby Trafford Park, manufacturing vital equipment for the war effort and a known target for enemy bombers. This commission gave us the chance to research and explore life in this neighbourhood during World War II, from both primary and secondary sources. The educational element in the project allowed us to work across the generations of the Kingsway Park community to produce a work of public art that serves today’s park users whilst recognising and honouring the strength of the community that was here during the very insecure years of the Second World War.
We met and chatted with residents who had lived through the raids and sirens and listened to their stories. We were invited into homes and, as the word spread through the neighbourhood, more personal accounts and the work of local historians were kindly offered to help with our research.
One of our first events took place in the park on a Saturday afternoon. It was a well attended open workshop during which participants were invited to dedicate a copper poppy with an embossed inscription to recognise somebody they wished to remember.
Further research, aided by our visits to the Imperial War Museum (North) led us to getting in touch with one or two war veterans. This helped us to devise a fabulous series of workshop activities, delivered across the three schools, which included an opportunity for some of the children to hear first hand the experiences of a war hero, Derek Hall from the paratroop regiment, followed by a questions and answers session. The atmosphere was incredible and the respect and admiration shown by the children was very uplifting for all involved.
Following the research and workshops, we set to work on the initial sketch designs. Working as a team, we were able to brainstorm and fire out a lot of ideas quite quickly and then decide which elements worked the best to be further developed.