Mayor makes poppy exhibition appeal

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Published: Wednesday 5th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Boris Johnson has called for the field of ceramic poppies in memory of Britain’s war dead to remain at the Tower of London beyond Armistice Day.

The London mayor said the huge popularity of the exhibition meant he wanted to explore whether it could be kept at the site for longer than originally planned.

Up to four million people are expected to have visited the installation, Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, before it is dismantled on November 12.

Mr Johnson said: “The poppy field at the Tower is a unique and poignant focus of remembrance in this centenary year.

“It has grown rapidly in popularity, to such an extent that it is now a global visitor attraction.

“I’m keen to explore whether we can keep the exhibition open for longer, to give as many people as possible the chance to glimpse something so incredible, whilst easing the pressure on numbers.”

A spokeswoman for the mayor said he was in discussion with Historic Royal Palaces, the agency which runs the Tower of London, about extending the exhibition for a further week.

But Historic Royal Palaces said today that i t was always the intention to begin sending the poppies – which have been sold to raise cash for charity – to their new owners after Armistice Day on November 11.

A spokeswoman said: “We have been overwhelmed by the support from the public for Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red, our installation of ceramic poppies in the moat at the Tower of London.

“It has always been intended that the poppies will be in place until November 11 and after this time they will be cleaned and sent out to all those that have purchased them.

“The transience of the installation is key to the artistic concept, with the dispersal of the poppies into hundreds of thousands of homes marking the final phase of this evolving installation.

“We are currently planning further ways in which the Tower of London will be marking the coming years of the centenary and the legacy of the poppies in the moat.”

By November 11, there will be 888,246 ceramic poppies planted at the site, one for each British and colonial death during the First World War, which began 100 years ago.

Eleven thousand volunteers will then begin removing the installation from November 12, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said on Twitter.

Royal British Legion said it hopes the sale of the poppies – which were available to buy for £25 each – will raise in excess of £15 million.

The public were urged to postpone their visits to the poppy field last week due to overcrowding during the school half-term holiday

Phil Hufton, London Underground’s chief operating officer, said Tower Hill station near the memorial had been “extremely busy” and occasionally the station was being closed on police advice.

Transport for London has urged visitors to the Tower of London to travel to nearby Tube stations Aldgate or Aldgate East or take the DLR to Tower Gateway.

Commuters have also been asked to consider travelling to London Bridge and then walk, cycle or take a bus. Motorists have also been advised not to drive in the area.

One beneficiary from the sale of the poppies, military charity SSAFA, backed the closure of the exhibition next week.

A spokeswoman said: “Its transience is part of the overall artistic concept. Given that around four million people are thought to have visited the poppies, we appreciate that Historic Royal Palaces now needs to fulfil its obligation to those who have bought a poppy, and thereby generously supported the charities who are benefiting from the proceeds from their sale.”

Published: Wednesday 5th November 2014 by The News Editor

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