National Recording Project


Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009

Second Chance


Type Landscape , War Memorial

     Five burnt tree trunks and roots forming a henge-like circle around a central beech plate, rather like an altar. Burnt blackened tree trunks has associations with the blackened, burnt out hollowness and damage of war and bombing. Not a war memorial, but to remind us of the pilots who died to give us a 'second chance'.
     The Dan Rankin 'Second Chance' sculpture in Hornchurch Country Park I didn't actually get to see, as it had been pulled down a few months beforehand. It was considered unsafe, partly due to natural wear and tear, weathering, also vandalism. Although it was meant to be semi-permanent it should have lasted for longer than the four years it in fact did. It was unveiled in May 1994 and removed from its site in August 1998. It proved to be a controversial piece, consisting of a henge-like circle of blackened tree trunks and roots. These were fashioned from the locally fallen trees of the 1987 storm. It was meant to be a celebratory and commemorative piece of work for the Battle of Britain pilots who flew their spitfires from this park when it was Hornchurch Airfield. Unfortunately the local airforcemen's club did not approve and did not attend the opening. There is a very atmospheric photograph in existence of the official opening, which pictures the 'henge' with five airforcemen in uniform in its centre at sunset. Very dramatic, as in fact it was. The people posing as airmen were drama students who had driven down from Bretton Hall College (Wakefield) to take part in the ceremony, one of them being John Kaufmann's son, who was assisting Dan Rankin with the sculpture. There is a video in the possession of John Kaufman on the making and erection of sculpture and the unveiling. Tel: 01708 787413

Contributor details

Contributor Role
Rankin, Don Sculptor

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Tree trunks and roots Burnt wood, black 300 - 360cm high approx
Central altar piece None 150cm approx
Fixing rods Stainless steel embedded in concrete None

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
General condition Not Visible
Surface condition
  • Corrosion, Deterioration
  • Bird guano
  • Abrasions, cracks, splits
Structural condition
  • Cracks, splits, breaks, holes
  • Graffiti
  • Structural damage
  • Surface damage
Road Airfield Way
Precise location Was in centre of Hornchurch Country Park (now lost)
A-Z ref 67 3G
OS ref TQ535845
Date of design 1993-94
Year of unveiling 1994
Unveiling details May 1994
Commissioned by London Borough of Havering
Duty of care London Borough of Havering
Listing status Not listed
At risk? Don't know

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