Councillor supports Webster memorial campaign

John Glen outside the Webster Theatre with the Black Watch standard.
John Glen outside the Webster Theatre with the Black Watch standard.

A LOCAL councillor has added his support to the campaign to have the word ‘memorial’ reinstated to the name of the Webster Theatre.

David Fairweather told the Herald that after reading up on the history behind the name of the theatre, he plans to take the campaign straight to Angus Council who run the theatre.

The original Webster Memorial Hall was gifted to Arbroath shortly after the First World War by Sir Francis Webster and his brothers William and James.

The hall was to act as a memorial to Sir Francis’s son Lieutenant Joseph F. Webster who was killed in action at Zaandvoorde Ridge in 1914.

But it seems the word memorial has been removed from the door panels, canopy and pavement inscription outside, which all now ready just ‘Webster Theatre’.

Councillor Fairweather says after hearing about the campaign and reading up on the background history of the theatre and the other Arbroath men who were killed during the First World War, he will ask the local authority to look into this issue.

He said: “I was part of the council committee which in 2007 decided to shorten the name to the Webster Theatre.

“However three years on there seems to be sufficient feeling by local historians, the Black Watch Association and other local people that the council should be looking to reinstated the word ‘memorial’ in the name of the theatre.

“I have to admit that as an individual I didn’t know the complete history of why it was called the Webster Memorial Theatre and at the time I didn’t think much about shortening the name.

“But now after talking to people and looking through the Arbroath Roll of Honour, it brought it home to me just how many people from this area were killed during the First World War.

“So the theatre maybe should have the word ‘memorial’ in it so we can remember Lieutenant Webster and everybody else who died.”

Now Councillor Fairweather plans to meet with neighbourhood services director Ron Ashton to discuss reinstating the word memorial and bringing a report back before the relevant committee for consideration.

He added: “Learning all about the history has been a humbling experience and I think it is important that I ask Ron Ashton to bring a report back before the council as I believe it wouldn’t cost too much to add in the word on the theatre’s canopy.

“My understanding is that the Webster family thought the word ‘memorial’ would always be there and now I can understand where all these organisation such as The Black Watch are coming from.

“Maybe we could get the history of the theatre taught in schools and educate people about this so we are not so ignorant of the story.”