Tower of London Poppy Installation: How did it affect the nation?

The 888,246 ceramic poppies created by a dedicated group of volunteers to commemorate the British and Commonwealth soldiers who lost their lives during the First World War, had more than just an emotive impact on the nation.

The mesmeric artwork, entitled “Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red”, occupied the 10 hectare moat surrounding the Tower of London for a short period, however it left a lasting impression on the nation and its legacy will stand the test of time.  TOL poppies 4

A Boost to Tourism

An estimated five million people from across the globe travelled to London to view the poppy installation between 17th July 2014, when the planting of the poppies began, and 12th November 2014, when dismantlement commenced.

Throughout this time queues of people waited to pay their respects with over 100,000 people per day visiting the Tower of London; a testament to how iconic Paul Cummins and Tom Piper’s display became over such a short space of time.

These massive crowds reflect a huge rise in tourism in comparison to 2013, making The Tower of London, which is always one of the popular attractions, the Number 1 most visited attraction in London in 2014, according to 365Tickets internal data.

  1. Tower of London
  2. London Eye
  3. Windsor Castle
  4. SEA LIFE London Aquarium
  5. Tower Bridge Exhibition

Furthermore, during the period between July and November 2014 when the display was showcased, the Tower of London attracted 196% more tourists than the same period in 2013.

Even though the artwork has now been taken down, the two most iconic structural forms, The Weeping Window and The Wave, will continue to boost tourism around the nation as they tour the country, transforming new and unique landscapes.

After their tour of the country these pieces of art will have a permanent residence at the Imperial War Museum London and Imperial War Museum Manchester as one of the 14 – 18 NOW’s legacy projects.

Remembering those who lost their lives

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red helped capture the imagination of the globe and became a place of pilgrimage for those directly impacted by the events of the First World War.

Those who lost their lives will never be forgotten and the vast scale of the installation helped us to appreciate the masses of soldiers who lost their lives.

Bryn Parry, Co-Founder and CEO of Help for Heroes, explains that: “The Poppies at the Tower installation has been extraordinary. It has become the symbol of reflection, a National focus for remembrance.

We remember all those who have died in the service of our country; countless numbers, generations of the dead, but we must also remember those who live.”

Support for Charities

Money raised from the sale of the 888,246 ceramic poppies will be donated and separated equally between six service charities that are dedicated to supporting the armed forces. These charities are:

  • Cobseo
  • Combat Stress
  • Coming Home
  • Help for Heroes
  • The Royal British Legion

Bryan Parry poignantly highlights why it is important that, although we must always remember those who fought for us 100 years ago, we should not forget about those who have made sacrifices today:

“Our wounded of today are made of the same stuff as those of the World War but they will not be represented by poppies nor have candles lit in their memory. They are alive and they want to live their lives: independent and fulfilled.

That’s where we can help. Today’s support for our wounded is extraordinary. For the first time we have Recovery Centres and coordinated programmes giving support and retraining.

Sophisticated prosthetics and medical advances give our wounded warriors opportunities beyond any ever seen before. There is hope but it must continue for years to come, growing not fading, as the memory of these conflicts retreats.

Our young men and women will grow old, age will weary them and the years condemn. This time we must do more than remember the dead. This time we must ensure that we continue to care for our living. That is how we can honour them; this must be their living memorial.”

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red: The Important Statistics  

  • 2 – Number of artists behind the creation of the artwork
  • 100 – Number of years since the outbreak of WW1
  • 5,000,000 – Estimated number of people who went to see the display
  • 888,246 – Amount of hand-made poppies crafted
  • £25 – Price of each poppy to buy
  • £15,000,000 – Estimated amount of money raised through the sale of the poppies
  • 6 – Number of charities that will benefit from the installation
  • 17,500 – Number of volunteers who helped to plant the poppies
  • 8,000 –  Number of people who helped to dismantle the artwork
  • 2018 – The year that the Weeping Window and the Wave will be housed in the Imperial War Museum London and Manchester
  • 497,000KG – The weight the clay used for all of the ceramic poppies
  • 3 – The amount of separate shifts worked each day by artists and volunteers, spanning 23 hours, to ensure the poppies were created in time
  • 13 – The age of Harry Hayes, the cadet who planted the last poppy
  • 200 – The number of names read out on The Roll of Honour each night until 11th November
  • 2014 – Number of commemorative £5 coins commissioned

Kate Quigley

Kate Quigley Travel Writer