Repairs to Wellington Monument will begin in just over a year. Plans for a full restoration have been put on hold unless more money can be raised, but the budget for work on the upper half of the obelisk alone is £2m. This cash will come from the National Trust and a fine on banks for rigging the Libor rate.
However, the Trust expects to only be able to repair the most badly damaged areas of the monument, because so far it has only been able to raise half of the nearly £4m needed to do a full repair.
‘We have raised half the money so far and we will shortly recruit a Community Fundraiser, but the remaining £2m needed is an ambitious target. We are hugely grateful for all the help and support we’ve already received including from our volunteers and Wellington Town Council. We’re going to need to keep working together if we are to hit this target’ said Helen Sharp, the Wellington Monument project manager.
‘The monument is deteriorating. Our intention is to start work on the most damaged parts and repair the top third as well as correct the bulging north face and continue to work down while we fundraise. If we can raise enough money, the repairs will reach ground level and we will be able to safely reopen the monument to visitors once more.’
The detailed design work for repairs to the 175 feet high obelisk is being done this year and the Trust expects to go out to tender for companies who will carry out the repairs by the end of the year. Work would then start on site in early summer 2019 and continue for most of 2020.
Helen Ghosh, the Trust’s Director General said: ‘We recognise that the Wellington Monument is a landmark that means a lot to many people and we want to see it back in a good state of repair. We hope that our fund-raising campaign, to be launched later this year, will help us ensure that the monument can be fully repaired.’
Work to build Wellington Monument, to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, was started in 1817 but it took until 1853 for it to be completed because of a shortage of funds. The lack of money led to shortcuts being taken which have made the top third of the monument more vulnerable to damage – and in more urgent need of repair.
The National Trust was given the monument in 1934 but without an endowment which could fund its maintenance. It has been closed and surrounded by fencing since 2005 after cracks were found in the masonry.
At 175 feet (53m) high, it is the tallest monument of its kind in the UK – and the second tallest in Europe. There are 232 steps inside which previously allowed visitors to climb the monument and see out through a viewing window.
More information is available on www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wellington-monument