West Ham has launched a new section on whufc.com dedicated to the legacy of the Boleyn Ground Memorial Garden.
The club has contacted people who have loved ones remembered at the Memorial Garden, keeping in regular communication to ensure their thoughts and feelings are the priority in developing a fitting and lasting legacy for our supporters, on the site of the Hammers former home.
They continue to invite family members of supporters who are remembered at the garden to get in touch so that they can extend our offer of personal support and assistance.
People are encouraged to contact the Club at memorialgardenE13@westhamunited.co.uk and speak to a member of the Supporter Services team.
In 2001, the Memorial Garden became an area at the Boleyn Ground where Hammers supporters chose to pay tribute to the memory of their loved ones.
Situated alongside the famous John Lyall Gates, the Garden was open 24/7, and while many supporters paid their respects on matchday, the Garden was also accessible for families to visit privately in their own time.
The Garden belonged to the supporters and, in this spirit, tributes were created and laid spontaneously by the fans with no requirement to notify the Club if you wished to visit or lay ashes in the area. For over 15 years, fans visited the area to say farewell to family and friends, and the tributes grew into their hundreds, with personal plaques and cherished items adorning the area.
Since moving to London Stadium in 2016, the Club has remained in close contact with Barratt London, who own the site of our former home. Regular meetings have been held between senior staff on both sides since 2016 to ensure the Memorial Garden can be accessed securely, is maintained weekly, and that it secures a lasting legacy to all of those supporters remembered at the Garden.
The clun have always maintained a commitment to consulting with family members on any future plans for the area, and together we continue to do everything we can to locate those who have loved ones remembered at the Garden, including through a series of consultation events held in the summer of 2018.
The Memorial Garden has now temporarily closed in order for re-landscaping works to take place. Ahead of its closure, the Club and Barratt London held a closing ceremony for family members who have loved ones remembered at the garden. The event was attended by around 100 family members who heard readings from the West Ham United Chaplain, Reverend Alan Bolding, and Ray Fuller, whose wife’s ashes are scattered at the site. Families also had time for quiet reflection and the opportunity to collect personal items.
Any remaining unclaimed items have now been carefully and respectfully collected by the Club, and will be stored on a temporary basis, while every effort is made to reunite family members with any items.
With the Memorial Garden now temporarily closed, a memorial bench has been installed on Priory Road to provide families with a temporary area of reflection during the redevelopment work. Protective hoardings have been erected around the Memorial Garden, which will enable the existing site to be necessarily reconfigured during the redevelopment. This will mean that there is no access to the current memorial area until the new Memorial Garden reopens, which is anticipated to be in 2022.
Head of Supporter Services Jake Heath said: “The thoughts and feelings of family members have always been our first priority and, as part of continued consultation, we have invited feedback from them on the proposals for the future of the Garden, via feedback forms and through conversations with Supporter Services and Barratt London Site Managers, who are always happy to help with enquiries or concerns.
“We will continue to keep in close personal contact with those who have a loved one remembered at the Memorial Garden, offering our support and keeping them updated regularly ahead of the new area opening in late 2022.”
Stephen Thompson, Managing Director, Barratt East London, commented: “Upton Park has a significant history, and one of our primary goals throughout its redevelopment has been to create a new community that sensitively reflects what came before.
“We appreciate the importance this location holds to the families of those who have been remembered in the memorial area. We are proud to be working so closely with West Ham to ensure the memorial area remains a fitting and lasting tribute to those who are remembered at the Boleyn Ground.”