Govt launches paving slab contest for WWI centenary

The centenary of the outbreak of World War I is just a year away, so how best should the 100th anniversary of the beginning of 'The Great War' be marked?

Well, the government has come up with a solution that even we think is a little weird - a paving stone design contest.

It's just one part of the centenary celebrations, but the competition could see paving slabs designed by somebody living today, and containing a QR ('Quick Response') code, laid in towns and cities throughout the UK - including Scunthorpe.

Commemorating Valour

In England, 363 people - including Scunthorpe-born John Cunningham, pictured right - received the Victoria Cross for valour during WWI, along with a further 44 in Scotland, 15 in Wales, eight in Northern Ireland and 24 in the Republic of Ireland.

Now a competition is open to choose a winning paving slab design, which will then be used to create commemorative stones to be placed in the Victoria Cross recipients' home towns.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles says: "Laying paving stones to mark these Victoria Cross heroes will ensure that there is a permanent memorial to all the fallen who fought for our country, and the competition is a great way for people from all corners of the United Kingdom to get involved."

Entering the Competition

If you want to try your hand at designing a paving slab that combines the global conflict of the early 20th century with the smartphone QR technology of the early 21st, there are some things you need to know.

Firstly, the deadline is Friday, October 4th 2013 at 5pm, so make sure your entry is in by then.

Secondly, you'll need to send your entry to as an electronic attachment of no more than 15MB, or by post (on A4 paper) to:

Sally Sealey
5th Floor Zone B2
Eland House
Bressenden Place

Thirdly, your design must meet the following criteria:
  • suitable for a 600mm x 600mm paving slab
  • incorporates part of the Victoria Cross medal design
  • includes the name of the VC recipient and date it was awarded
  • includes a unique QR code linking to online information about them
You can submit your design as a drawing, a painting, or as a CAD drawing.

As mad as it sounds...?

Commemorative paving slabs are nothing new - from the Hollywood Walk of Fame to Manchester's Northern Quarter, there are plenty of places where the ground beneath our feet is used to carry a message of some sort.

Manchester's Tib Street features street poetry and signage in a specially created typeface. Image: Duncan Hull

The big challenge will be for competition entrants to find a way to incorporate all of the different elements - from a medal first awarded in 1856, to a square barcode that must be scanned using a smartphone or tablet - into a single, sensible, cohesive design.

If you think you're up to the challenge, give it a go - and you could find your design embedded into the pavements of UK towns and cities for many years to come.