Bamburgh Castle draws line in the sand for VE Day occasion

  • 07 May 2020
  • Article

Photo credit: Owen Humphrey's and Press Association

Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland has marked 75 years since the end of war in Europe by carving out a supersize Union Jack into the beach beneath the iconic coastal landmark.

The 1275 metres square etching – the equivalent to almost seven tennis pitches - took castle maintenance manager Andrew Heeley hours of preparation to design and mark out the intricate dimensions, during his lockdown at the castle. 

It took him a further four hours and almost 19,000 steps to painstakingly draw the Union Flag - the national flag of the United Kingdom - into the sands of famous Bamburgh beach, which is part of The Bamburgh Castle Estate. 

Bamburgh Castle owner Francis Watson Armstrong said: “The Union Flag sand art Andrew has created is a remarkable commemoration for VE Day. 

“Although the tribute will be washed away by the North Sea tides, Bamburgh Castle’s VE Day flag will remain as a legacy in the sands of time, paying tribute to the dedication and service of the entire Second World War generation - from the British, Commonwealth and Allied Forces to those who served on the home front and the sacrifices they made. 

“Our flag is also a testament to the shattering impact Covid-19 has had upon so many people around the world. But, like the Second World War, there will be an end to this and we look forward to the day when we can celebrate with everyone here at Bamburgh once again.”

Andrew Heeley is maintenance manager at Bamburgh Castle where he lives in lockdown with his partner, Jo and her daughter Mathilda. He said: “It’s given me a few sleepless nights thinking about it as I like to make sure everything is just right. There was a lot of measuring, calculating and planning for it to be accurate and to scale up, as well as taking into consideration the tides which are especially high at the moment due to the super Flower Moon – and making sure I got it the right way up.”

A former Anglo Saxon royal palace, the castle became the first in the world to fall to gunpowder during the Wars of the Roses in 1464. 

The castle was bought in 1894 by Victorian innovator and engineer William George Armstrong who restored the fortress into his vision of the archetypal castle which stands to this day.

Bamburgh Castle is owned and managed by the Armstrong family to this day and is visited by over 160,000 people each year. 

The castle is temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the ongoing care and maintenance of one of Britain’s best loved attractions continues day in, day out for people to safely enjoy visiting as soon as the time comes for its drawbridge to be lowered once again. 

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