Tower of London poppies: Memorial will cover equivalent of 16 football pitches

Hundreds of thousands of clay models also used 90 tonnes of steel in stems and structures underneath the flowers

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As the Tower of London’s poppy installation draws into its final week the area of covered has stretched to the equivalent of 16 football pitches.

By the time the installation, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, will close on 11th November an estimated four million people will have seen the 888, 246 handmade poppies surrounding the Tower of London.

Gradually the dry moat surrounding the Tower has filled up with poppies, covering an eye-watering 16 acres – roughly equivalent to 250 tennis courts or 16 football pitches.

Hundreds of thousands of clay models were handmade under artist Paul Cummins in Derby. Teams of volunteers, working 23-hour days over three shifts, carefully assembled each flower using old-fashioned techniques.

In addition to the clay, around 90 tonnes of steel was used to create the stems of the poppies, which vary in length from 1m to 50cm, and the structures that allowed the red flowers to appear to ‘float’ over the moat and out of one of the Tower’s windows.

Each poppy represents a British person who died during the course of the First World War, and the last poppy will be planted on Armistice Day.

The very first poppy was planted by YS Crawford Butler, the longest serving Yeoman Warder at the Tower, on 5th August, marking the first day of Britain’s full participation in the First World War 100 years later.

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Tube closures and warnings of a crush of visitors couldn’t keep half-term crowds from Paul Cummins’ ceramic poppies on Saturday

All of the poppies have already been sold, with the £25 from each estimated to raise millions for the charities helping wounded servicemen.

The reception to the poppies has not been entirely positive, with some claiming the poppies were a “trite” representation of a horrendous loss of life and glorified the slaughter that it sought to memorialise.

The last week of the installation was greeted by the news that a man is attempting to extend the exhibition.

Steven Robbins has created an e-petition to the government asking to keep the poppies on show around the tower for another 12 months. Although only 1,400 people have signed the petition so far, if it reaches 100,000 it will have to be debated in the House of Commons.

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