Plans to regenerate of one of the busiest train terminals in the UK will ensure a greater focus on its iconic Holocaust refugee memorial.
As part of a wider £1.5 billion regeneration project, £450 million of upgrades to Liverpool Street Station would focus on addressing accessibility, capacity and overcrowding issues to improve the experience of its estimated 135 million annual station users.
In artist renderings seen by Jewish News, included in those proposed upgrades, the Kindertransport – The Arrival statue (2006) that serves as a memorial to the thousands of unaccompanied European Jewish children who fled to London on the Kindertransport in the Second World War, would be given greater space and prominence in an improved Hope Square.
The Für das Kind (2003), a bronze of two children with suitcases, by the sculptor Flor Kent will also feature in this new arrangement.
Marit Meisler, artist, CEO and Creative Director of the Meisler Gallery and daughter of the artist Frank Meisler who designed the sculpture, said: “My father was a Kindertransport child himself. England gave him a home and allowed him to stay in England after he was orphaned during WW2. The location of Liverpool Street station is hugely symbolic and meaningful as this is where the children who were saved with him got off the train after their long voyage across Europe.
“Years later, when he was commissioned to make this sculpture he was very moved, and I know that for him it was the most significant work he ever did. Following the unveiling of this sculpture he was given the “the keys to the city of London” and he was invited to dine at Prince Charles’s table. Indeed, as Prince of Wales and now as King, His Majesty has a longstanding personal interest in the Kinder and commemorating the Kindertransport.
“From my dealings with them, the applicants have been very supportive and demonstrated full respect to the sanctity of the monument. They are in constant discussion with the AJR (The Association of Jewish Refugees) and World Jewish Relief and myself regarding the statue and its location in the planning of the new complex. This positive engagement has taken place and I am looking forward to the scheme progressing.”
Michael Newman, Chief Executive of the Association of Jewish Refugees, told Jewish News: “As the national organisation representing and supporting Holocaust refugees and survivors, we are immensely grateful to the Liverpool Street station developers for the reassurance that the Kindertransport monument will continue to be integral to the façade after redevelopment and that an investment will be made to improve signage and information surrounding the memorial.
“As living memory of the Holocaust recedes and we grapple with its legacy, it is our fervent wish that the renewed focus on the statue will help with further remembrance of the Kindertransport. This monument, like other memorials to the Holocaust, helps combat denial and distortion.
“For the Kinder, the monument marks the chance they were given to make a new life in Great Britain and it also forms a tangible link in the story of the refugees’ escape from Nazism and the sanctuary they received in the UK. Today, the majority of AJR members are the children and grandchildren of survivors and refugees who join us to celebrate and preserve the culture and heritage of our parents and grandparents.”
Partners in the upgrade project are the station’s owner, Network Rail, property company Sellar (previous projects include The Shard at London Bridge) and Hong Kong-based public transport operator MTR. The £1.5 billion regeneration proposal includes 800,000 square feet of office space, around 160,000 square feet of hotel space, a new public rooftop garden and open-air swimming pool.
A decision on the proposed planning application submitted to the City of London Corporation is expected in 2024.
- World-renowned Israeli architect and sculptor Frank Meisler was born in Danzig but grew up in England before moving to Israel in 1956. Fifty years later, he designed and built the Kindertransport monument at Liverpool Street Station in London, where he arrived as a 13-year old child refugee in August 1939. He died in 2018.
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