They came for the railings with hammers, chisels, saws and files. Each street was visited in turn by sad eyed men and horses and carts loaded high with metal work destined for the smelt. Each iron rod had the potential to tear apart the enemy, but it couldn’t do so whilst dividing the private from the public. Not in that form. So they had to be transformed by the munitions factories.
For a short period an organised work force systematically hacked down the iron railings of the land form all but the people who could afford to pay. They were replaced with nothing.
From a demarcated country we became a land of foot high walls studded with curious squares of metal work which bore testament to the haste and apparent urgency with which we created killing devices and sent our sons abroad to use them. Who at the time would have forseen that the railings in the majority of cases would never be replaced. Their presence would be forgotten and hedges grown in their place.
The removal of the railings marked a change from one period to another. From confidence and abundance to anxiety and scarcity. In protecting ourselves violently, we destroyed our small local protection. The urban landscape was forever changed. The difference has been forgotten, and the remaining studs only puzzle children.