Plans for Petworth Boys School memorial are to be debated

Former Petworth Boys School pupil Tony Penfold
Former Petworth Boys School pupil Tony Penfold
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A special meeting is to take place in Chichester to discuss plans for a piece of public art to commemorate all those who died when a bomb fell on Petworth Boys School in 1942.

Town councillors have fought hard to ensure developers building new homes on the site stick to planning conditions requiring them to provide a permanent memorial to the 28 boys and two teachers who died.

They raised strong objections when Towerview tried to have them lifted, but last night (Thursday, July 20) chairman Chris Kemp told a full council meeting he now had an ‘open invitation’ to meet developer Joe Gormley to discuss the public art. He added: “After a lot of pushing and shoving we have established the money set aside for this art is almost £7,500.”

He added: “District councillor Eileen Lintill and I have had several conversations to make sure everybody directly affected - the survivors and their families - understand where we are going with this.”

The town council has prepared a brief to debate where the new memorial would be and what form it would take and there is to be full public consultation.

The meeting will include Petworth Society, West Sussex county councillor Janet Duncton, Cllr Lintill, the Leconfield Estate, Petworth Town Council and the South Downs National Park.

86 year old Tony Penfold is one of the few survivors of the bombing left in the area and he has reservations about the plans: “I don’t think any of it is necessary. The trouble is Petworth has changed so much and there are so few locals now. I don’t think a lot of them are interested. I would rather the site was not built on. At present I can stand precisely where I was when the bomb went off and I think the school should have been made a memorial garden.”

This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the bombing. There are plans for a special commemoration: “I have concerns about it,” said Mr Penfold, “I hope they’re not going to make a circus of it.”

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