Poet and professor the latest to object to Museum of Military Medicine in Cardiff Bay

Architectural plans for the military museum. Picture by Scott Brownrigg

Renowned poet Mererid Hopwood has become the most high profile objector to plans to bring two military museums to Cardiff.

Hopwood, the first woman winner of the National Eisteddfod chair, has submitted a letter of objection to Cardiff Council to the application to build a Museum of Military Medicine in Cardiff Bay.

“As one who takes great pride in Cardiff as a place of birth and upbringing, it is disappointing to think that the city would be linked to such a development,” she wrote.

“The idea of putting the building in the centre of the Bay is particularly daunting, as the area is home to countries with many Welsh families with close ties to countries which were mercilessly colonised by the British armed forces.

“In addition, play areas for children in the area are painfully rare, and building on one of these areas would be very unfair.”

Hopwood, now a professor of languages at Trinity Saint David university, added: “One should seriously consider why no English city has wanted such a project and consider whether it would be far better to think of ways to promote Wales’ heritage and celebrate the capital in that respect?

“It is the home of the Temple of Peace and Health after all, and it is sad that a memorial to Gandhi is also a stone’s throw away from the site of the proposed museum and Norwegian church.

“Nowadays, in light of the pandemic, thinking of ways that can pull us together as citizens of the world is best, not trying to celebrate things related to machinery that tear us apart.”

 

Dispute

Cardiff Council has now received more than 30 formal objections to the development as well as a petition against the plan from local residents. Musician Gwenno and former Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood are among other high-profile figures to have spoken out against the plan.

Hopwood’s intervention comes after Nation.Cymru revealed the Museum of Military Music could also move to the site due to open in 2022.

The link-up was proposed after residents and civic groups cited concerns over the financial viability of the project.

The news also promoted an objection from the Cymdeithas y Cymod peace group.

Writing on behalf of the group, Dr Llion Wigley said: “The question of whether Cardiff Bay and Wales is a suitable location for such an establishment is again questionable, especially of our own musical tradition in Wales and Cardiff as a capital city, a tradition in which supporting and promoting the British armed forces is not part of.”

Cardiff Council leader Huw Thomas disputed similar claims when the plans for the museum first came to light.

He wrote: “Let’s be clear, it’s a Military MEDICINE Museum. I can see why people might object to a museum that glorified war, but I’m not sure a museum with displays such as Florence Nightingale’s carriage, dental and vet equipment, and recent deployments to combat Ebola is doing that.”

Branding

In a bid to win over the community, the Museum of Military Medicine recently begun sharing content on social media about Welsh icons of medicine such as Betsi Cadwalader.

Another posted this week emphasises that the architects of the proposed four-storey building are Cardiff based and says the design will “reflect Cardiff Bay’s cultural and industrial heritage as a port and industrial area.”

The Military Medicine Museum have hired London advertising agency, Isobel, to help with branding and fundraising.

No date has yet been set for the development and its objections to be considered by Cardiff Council’s planning committee.

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