Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

Making the children’s poppy wreath

Robert and Carol Smith travelled across England, Wales, France, Belgium, Italy and Germany forging poppies with children at schools, clubs, museums and at various shows. This wonderful opportunity has enabled many children to be part of the Ypres 2016 project. The children’s poppies forged at these numerous sessions have been assembled into three wreaths, one of which was laid at the Menin Gate during the last post ceremony on September 5th; the other two will be placed at Langmark Poelkapple. The completed wreaths were constructed by Robert Smith, Luc Vandecasteele, Manicx Carlieri and Rik Verschoot.





Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Foundations at Langemark Poelkapelle

Site preparations are well under way at Langemark Poelkapelle. The local authority have generously taken responsibility for all of the foundations and landscaping work.




Monday, May 16th, 2016

Michael Morpurgo gives support to Ypres 2016 Poppy Cenotaph Appeal

michael-morpurgoAcclaimed author of War Horse, Michael Morpurgo has given his support to a striking new World War 1 Cenotaph to be created by blacksmiths and farriers in Flanders, Belgium.

Standing 7m tall and weighing 12 tonne, the imposing yet simple slab of weathering steel features the evocative image of a single Flanders poppy and at its base will be ‘planted’ a field of 2016 steel poppies handcrafted by blacksmiths and farriers worldwide. Framing this will be 25 panels designed by international blacksmiths referencing thoughts of the war and echoing the zig-zag of the trenches.

The contribution and suffering of horses and those who cared for them were brought to popular culture in Morpurgo’s bestselling novel War Horse and the National Theatre’s award-winning production. In the War of 1914-18 blacksmiths and farriers were indispensable in sustaining the war effort of both sides. An estimated 3,000 played an essential role in supporting the war effort, repairing and maintaining equipment to shoeing millions of horses. (more…)

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Farriery at Ypres 2016: International Blacksmithing Event

Over eight million horses were involved in the First World War (WW1) and an estimated 3,000 blacksmiths and farriers from all sides played an essential role in supporting the war effort, from repairing and maintaining equipment to shoeing millions of horses.


It is important to recognise the vital contribution made by horses and farriers during WWI. During the time of the Great War a significant amount of farriery was done with small teams of people; typically the master farrier and his helper (striker). In order to recognise this, a farrier, Adrian Legge AWCF, with a helper, attended the event on a daily basis to demonstrate how a heavy horse is shod, with live horse shoeing daily, along with shoemaking demonstrations.


During the time of the Great War a significant amount of farriery was done with small teams of people; typically the master farrier and his helper (striker). The demonstrations/competitions will be structured to illustrate this approach, with horses being shod with the types of shoe used during the Great War. It is anticipated world-wide farriery organisations, training providers, farriers, farriery students and apprentices and those with an interest in horses will come along and get involved in this remarkable event.


Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

The Ypres 2016 Stand at the Le Fevres Event at Eu, Normandy, France

Over the three days of the event in October -16th 17th and 18th the Le Fevres Organisation provided a large stand for us to promote the YPRES 2016 Event.


The stand was set up with samples of both the blacksmith and children made poppies, the model of the Cenotaph and a collection box in the style of a WW1 Ammunition Box. Tee shirts, sweat shirts and hoodies were also available to purchase in support of the event.

le-fevres-event2-3An anvil with tooling used for making the children’s poppies was set up and displayed, also included were some poppy blanks and a selection of made poppies.

Over the three days we were there, a great deal of interest was generated by our stand, and we attracted many visitors.


The organisers also visited us twice daily promoting the event by interviewing Corinne, Christine and Julianna through the events public address system.

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Remembrance Day Sunday Service at Swainswick, near Bath – 2015

Children’s poppies for the YPRES 2016 Event were placed on the Altar of the 700 year old church of St Mary the Virgin at Swainswick, Bath and Carol Smith (YPRES 2016 Children’s Forging Team) was given the opportunity to give a presentation about the event to the congregation. The presentation was well received and a lot of positive interest was shown. It is poignant that the first children to make poppies did so at the local Swainswick Explorers Activity Centre that promotes adventurous play and where a small forge has been set up in the grounds alongside a pottery and woodworking shop to promote a general interest in craft based activity.


Our thanks to the Rev Joyce Williams Vicar of St Mary the Virgin Church, Swainswick for inviting Carol to speak at the service and to Edward Leigh Wood, for taking the poppy photographs.

Of the six children’s poppies placed on the Altar, two are British, one is Anglo/Irish, one is Anglo/Scots, one is Anglo/Welsh and one is Anglo/German.


The one larger poppy is in the style of the 2016 poppies currently being forged by blacksmiths and which will be placed around the new Cenotaph in Belgium.

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Moving the metal for the Ypres 2016 Cenotaph railings frames

As arranged Luc Vandecasteele brought the pre-cut steel bars for the Cenotaph Railing Frames to the Le Fevres Event at Eu in Normandy, France so that we could bring them back to Terry Clark’s Forge in the UK, where a forge-in has been planned to prepare the frames ready for the event in 2016. An initial estimate on the weight of the bars was around 500 kilos this was later raised to 600-700. On Sunday and because of the weight it was decided to split the load between two vehicles – a group of instructors and students from the blacksmithing course at Plumpton College, East Sussex were at the event and as they had spare capacity in their vehicle they offered to take part of the load back to the UK via the Channel Tunnel. We packed the rest in my vehicle (well distributed of course) and brought it back to the UK via the Dieppe to Newhaven Ferry. (more…)

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

Children’s Forging

The organisation of the children’s forging element of this event is now fully underway and many schools in Belgium and France have been contacted and given the opportunity to take part in this activity. English schools have been made aware of this event through ‘School Tour Companies’ and the Website.

Rotas have been completed to ensure school children can take part during their school day, (mornings and early afternoons) with further opportunities for the general public to take part late afternoons until 6 pm and the weekend from 9.00am until 6 pm. (more…)

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Completed Cenotaph plate at Geldof

cenotaph-250915Luc Vandecasteele standing proudly with the completed Cenotaph plate at Geldof. Already developing the natural patina the plate will soon be erected on the temporary base.

Monday, September 21st, 2015

Temporary Cenotaph base construction

Elements of the Temporary base at Geldof, Belgium. Geldof another of our generous sponsors have undertaken the task of constructing the substantial temporary base that will be used for erecting the Main cenotaph plate in the Market Square at Ypres in September 2016.

geldof-p8310087 (more…)

Friday, September 18th, 2015

Poppy Cenotaph work at LVD completed

All work at LVD has now been completed and preparations made for transportation to Geldof. The plate has been blasted clean ready to develop its natural patina.

lvd-p6230286 (more…)

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Ypres 2016 Cenotaph work in progress at LVD in Belgium

Work in progress at LVD in Belgium, one of our generous sponsors who have committed their time and expertise to fabricating the main cenotaph. LVD also sourced the 12,500kg steel plate from one of their suppliers, the German steel mill SIGMA who generously donated the material to the project.

lvd-3410 (more…)

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

Gone West award Ypres 2016 International Blacksmithing Event a €25,000 grant

What is GoneWest?

The English expression ‘to go west’ refers to dying, but through the Great War, the expression acquired a more explicit meaning. The Allied forces, occupying the Western Front, literally brought their dead and wounded to the west. Moreover, the war also moved from east to west throughout Belgium as a result of the German invasion in 1914. Therefore ‘GoneWest’ was chosen as the name for the artistic commemoration of the Great War in the province of West Flanders which will be starting in the autumn of 2014. (more…)

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Musée de plein air de Villeneuve-d’Ascq, France, May 2015

Following on from the first poppies made at Swainswick Explorers, by British children, the event at Musée de plein air de Villeneuve-d’Ascq, France, in May 2015 offered experienced French and Belgium blacksmiths, who will be working at the event in Ypres 2016, an opportunity to make poppies with French and Belgium children.


Monday, March 9th, 2015

Work Commences on the Poppy Cenotaph


After five years of discussing the possibility of the Ypres 2016 Cenotaph, work has finally begun to create this monumental work; a monument in memory of all those who suffered during WW1; those who survived, to live with the consequences, the loss of loved ones, the grief, the long term suffering caused by physical injury, the horrors of mental scarring, and the hardship that followed such a cruel and destructive four years. (more…)

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Manufacturing commences on the Poppy cenotaph

Early 2013 Mr Vandecasteele approached LVD Company enquiring where he could find a large, thick steel plate to make the Poppy monument.  LVD’s Managing Director Mr. Carl Dewulf was interested to contribute to this project, so a meeting was organized in Gullegem on 9th May 2013 with Messrs. Terrence Clark and Luc Vandecasteele.

During the visit Terrence Clark presented the project, at times with much emotion. Everyone was excited and plans for the future were made.

LVD brought the German steel plate supplier SIGMA on board, who have provided the thick steel plate. In early February 2015 the steel plate was profiled at SIGMA and transported to Belgium. The Poppy monument will now be carefully welded together at LVD and prepared for display during the event at the Grote Markt in Ypres.

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Worldwide interest for Poppy Cenotaph

News of the project is already generating great interest from around the world and we are pleased to inform you that we have already gained enthusiastic support in promoting this event from colleagues in Australia, America, Canada, France, Italy and the Ukraine.

Together they share a wealth of experience in organising International blacksmithing events and memorial projects and their contribution will be invaluable to the success of the Poppy cenotaph project.

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

Permission granted for the event

On 24 November 2014, following numerous presentations, meetings and a lot of correspondence with officials at the City of Ypres, an official letter from the Bergemeester (Mayor) was received granting permission to hold the International Blacksmithing Event at the Grote Markt Ypres. The City has a busy calendar with a lot of events happening during 2014 through to 2018 and the dates for our event have been confirmed as 1st September to 6th September 2016.

Jan Durnez, Burgemeester (Mayor) wrote:

“Yesterday the appeal for the event was discussed at the deputation of Ypres. Principal approval was given for the organisation of the event. The build-up has to happen on Tuesday 30 and Wednesday 31 August 2016.

The 6 day event would then proceed from Thursday 1 September, up to and including Tuesday 6 September.  The clean-up has to proceed on Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 September. Only the sculpture can stay until Sunday 11 September. On Monday 12 September the sculpture has to be removed from the market square.

There still has to be a lot of consultation about the practical issues, but meanwhile this is the confirmation of the period for the event.

Jan Durnez

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

Site granted for Poppy Cenotaph

On the 12 of September 2014 an official letter was received from the Mayor of Langemark-Poelkapelle granting a permanent site for the Poppy cenotaph. The site is adjacent to the German war cemetery, which receives in excess of 253,000 visitors annually and is one of the most frequently visited cemeteries in the region.

He wrote:

“Dear Mister Vandecasteele,

The local council communicates its agreement in principle for the realisation and the placement of the artwork  (i.e. the Poppy Cenotaph). For this project the municipality offers the location next to the reception pavilion at the German Military Cemetery, in Klerkenstraat, Langemark-Poelkapelle.

Both ‘Onroerend Erfgoed Vlaanderen’ and the ‘Deutsche Volksbund’ have seen the plans and they raised no objections. Provided that the municipality of Langemark-Poelkapelle can act as founder, there is no need for a building permit for the project.

Together with the municipality, there will be drafted an engagements note. This engagements note serves as a guideline for the realisation of the project.

Kind regards,

Alain Wyffels

The site benefits from an existing access road and parking however, to allow for increased visitors and safer manoeuvring of larger vehicles such as coaches, the car park is to be extended. The services of a landscape Architect have been acquired to design the general layout, footpaths, drainage, the access ramp and steps. Details of the layout design will be featured soon.

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Support from local business

geldof_engiconOn the 29th September 2014 the core group organising the Ypres 2016 event met with the Chairman of Geldof, Mr Marc Meurisse and presented our proposal for the international blacksmithing event and the Poppy Cenotaph.

Mr Meurisse was very sympathetic to the idea of both the event and the permanent cenotaph and confirmed that Geldof would support the project in any way that the company could.

Geldof is  Belgian company dealing with very large and complex fabrication projects. Visit the Geldof website here.

“Dear Mister Vandecasteele,

It was a pleasure to host you and your English colleague’s at our office the 29th of September. You speak with fire about your project to commemorate the things happened during the Great War. The project has won our sympathy. We are therefore pleased to announce that we will offer the project the necessary support.

Kind regards,
Marc Meurisse
Chairman Geldof.”