Memorial begins its makeover

PUBLISHED: 13:15 12 October 2007 | UPDATED: 20:10 01 June 2010

WATCHING BRIEF: Steve Napier of Fenland Council looks on during inspection work at the memorial. Pictures: BRIAN PURDY

WATCHING BRIEF: Steve Napier of Fenland Council looks on during inspection work at the memorial. Pictures: BRIAN PURDY

FIRST steps toward giving the 128 year-old Clarkson Memorial in Wisbech a makeover began this week. English Heritage and Fenland District Council are sharing the £20,000 cost of preliminary survey work which will determine the extent of repairs needed. W

BIRD’S EYE VIEW: Workman Ben Turner at the top of the memorial.

FIRST steps toward giving the 128 year-old Clarkson Memorial in Wisbech a makeover began this week.

English Heritage and Fenland District Council are sharing the £20,000 cost of preliminary survey work which will determine the extent of repairs needed.

"We have some concerns about the condition of the memorial," said Steve Napier, the council's property services and asset manager.

Mr Napier said the survey will assess the extent of the repairs that may be needed "and when we have the results we will make a further bid to Heritage Lottery funds for rectification".

CLOSE INSPECTION: Contractors checking damage at the top of the Clarkson Memorial on Wednesday.

The council believes the final repair bill may total £100,000 and Mr Napier said the council had received "some fairly good signals" that a grant may be forthcoming.

"It is obvious from a visual inspection that one of the sand stone plaques is severely corroded and there is evidence of stonework falling from the higher level," he said.

"This top to bottom survey will list all the problems and be turned into a specification to be costed by specialists."

Mr Napier said the council was working closely with the Wisbech Society on the renovation which everyone agreed was vital for the town, particularly in the light of the 200th anniversary celebrations of the abolition of the slave trade.

Thomas Clarkson was the Wisbech man who worked with William Wilberforce in the campaign to abolish slavery and the memorial was erected in 1881 at a cost of £2,000 (equivalent to £132,000 today).

Councillor Mac Cotterell, the council's portfolio holder responsible for the memorial, said it was "a wonderful tribute to a great man that the council and the society should be working together to ensure his memorial should be preserved for future generations".

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