Residents Concerned About Plan to Erect Broadband Pole Near War Memorial

Craig Bowman
Image by Michael Robins

Residents of Alphington, Exeter, Devon, Britain, are concerned about plans to erect a broadband pole near a war memorial dedicated to the local residents that lost their lives in World Wars I and II.

Openreach, a subsidiary of the BT Group, owns and operates the largest broadband network in Britain. They recently posted a notice that they intended to erect the new pole close to the location of the Alphington War Memorial Cross.

Residents are concerned that a business would choose to erect a pole on what they consider “a sacred piece of land.”

The Alphington War Memorial Cross is a monument that was erected in 1920 during a wave of such memorials built across Britain.

The government’s decision not to repatriate the dead soldiers from World War I meant that people had no graves where they could go to grieve pay respect to those who sacrificed their lives in the war. Many communities erected memorials for this purpose.

White markings on the ground near the war memorial suggest the work could soon begin. Image by Michael Robins.
White markings on the ground near the war memorial suggest the work could soon begin. Image by Michael Robins.

The cross in Alphington is designed in the style of a medieval wayside cross and is placed at the junction of Alphington Road and Cowick Lane. The top of the cross is part of an actual medieval cross that was found at the corner of Mill Lane.

It had been discovered by a Mr. T. Wippell in his garden. An expert inspected it at the time and determined that it was a genuine artifact that was at least 500 years old.

There are recesses in the top part of the cross which some theorize may have contained figures when it was originally erected. The original shaft of the cross head was found near the site where the cross head was discovered. It has since been erected in the Alphington Church.

The base of the cross is a pedestal that contains an inscription dedicating it to those who lost their lives in WWI. The dates for WWI are given as 1914-1919 since the Devonshire Regiment continued fighting on the Russian front until 1919.

The inscription was later modified to include those who lost their lives in World War II as well.

The monument does not contain the names of those from the community who died in service to their country. Those names are recorded in a tablet that is kept in the nearby church.

Michael Robbins lives in Alphington. He says that Openreach place a notification in the neighbourhood stating that the telecommunications company intends to build a tower in the area. White markings then appeared on the ground in the area of the memorial which seemed to indicate that the work was about to begin.

The Devonshire Regiment resting after an attack near Fricourt, August 1916.
The Devonshire Regiment resting after an attack near Fricourt, August 1916.

According to Robbins, both the notification and the white markings have been removed.

Other residents have expressed their displeasure on social media. Some claim to have written their local MP, Ben Bradshaw, to make their concerns heard.

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A spokesperson for Openreach said that the company generally uses existing poles and ducts to run cables for their network but that they occasionally find it necessary to erect new poles. The intention of the new pole in Alphington is to improve the broadband in the area.