In a previous post, I reflected on the recent votive and memorial phenomenon of ‘love-locks’.

Since then, I’ve spotted them more and more, and not in terms of the vast quantities that comprise primary locations for love-locks that have been the focus of the fascinating work of Dr Ceri Houlbrook. Instead, I’ve noticed them in more modest numbers: added to locations that have yet to acquire a repeated long-term accrual of love-locks. These might be seen as incipient shoots of a wider practice, and many may never acquire a broader significance because their location is too private or isolated, or the significance of the location too specific to a particular person(s) and/or events.

Yet I would contend that such incipient proto-locales for love-lock accrual have much to tell us that counters the media stereotype of the practice as an expression of romantic love. In particular, at the intersection of love-locks with other memorial practices outside of cemeteries, including ash-scattering, floral depositions and wreath-laying, such specific incipient locations allow us to see the practice in context most clearly and in relation to individual choices linked to the mourning and remembrance of loved ones.

My example is close to Chester and I noticed it on my cycle home last week. Namely it is the adaption of the love-lock tradition to a single memorial at the apex of a footbridge over the River Dee. It is in a prominent public location for walkers and cyclists, but outside of the city and outside of a tourist destination. Hence, I thought it deserving of note.

The memorial comprises some flowers tied to the bridge railings. The bridge has no thin railings to attract locks fixed directly to it. Instead, a chain has been wrapped around the railings, fixed with a single love-lock. This is thus part of a specific memorial, either at the place of death, or a place special to the deceased. Moreover, it is not a romantic love being articulated, but a fierce familial bond. This is because the copper lock bears a pair of interlocked hearts and the words:

DAD

8-3-1

I wonder whether the numbers represent a date of death, or a date of some other significance, or perhaps an articulation of a family tree in numbers? (Update: as noted in the comments below, this is code for ‘I love you’.