Czech memorial fountain in Leamington gets listed status

The Czechoslovak Freedom Fountain in Jephson Gardens
The Czechoslovak Freedom Fountain in Jephson Gardens

A memorial fountain in Leamington has now received listed status.

The Czechoslovak Freedom Fountain, which is in Jephson Gardens, has been officially listed by Historic England as a building of special architectural or historic interest.

Earlier this year, Historic England issued a call-out to find the country’s secret and lesser known murals, statues and tributes.

The search was carried out as part of Historic England’s ‘Immortalised’ season, which aims to help people explore the country’s memorial landscape – who is reflected, who is missing and why.

The Czechoslovak Freedom Fountain was created in 1968 by Czechoslovak veterans and was designed by John French in tribute to all of the Czechoslovak soldiers, airmen and patriots who lost their lives in the Second World War.

The Free Czechoslovak Army made their home in Leamington during the Second World War following the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany.

Sculpted in the shape of a parachute, the fountain honours the brave paratroopers who were based in the town.

Of the seven names engraved on the fountain, two of them - Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš - participated in Operation Anthropoid, a daring mission to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, a German Nazi official who was considered the architect of the Holocaust.

The remaining five - Adolf Opálka, Josef Bublík, Josef Valčík, Jaroslav Švarc and Jan Hrubý - were Special Operations Agents caught up in the aftermath of Heydrich’s assassination; all seven died following a firefight with the SS in a church in Prague on 18 June 1942.

The fountain is currently undergoing restoration thanks to funds raised by the Friends of the Czechoslovak Memorial Fountain and funding from Warwick District Council.

Work is expected to be completed by October 2018.

Councillor Moira-Ann Grainger, Warwick District Council’s portfolio holder for neighbourhood services, said: “I am so pleased to see that the fountain has received the recognition and protection it deserves.

“The Free Czechoslovak Army are an important part of Leamington’s history and heritage, and this fountain will remain a testament to their bravery and courage.”

The Friends of the Czechoslovak Memorial Fountain added: “We are delighted that this monument with its unique history is being recognised by Historic England as worthy of preservation for future generations.”