Restoration work to bring the Poole Municipal War Memorial and other historic features in Poole Park back to their former glory has begun.
The work is part of the Poole Park Life project which is being made possible by National Lottery players through £2.7m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The War Memorials form the centre piece of Poole Park and include the Poole Cross (World War I and World War II), the Burma Star and Mountbatten obelisk in the rose bed and the adjacent memorial gates. This year marks the centenary of World War I with the renovation work set to improve access and ensure these structures are well preserved for future generations.
The War Memorial Gates have been removed for extensive cleaning and restoration. This includes the fabrication of new iron details, such as leaves and scrolls to restore damaged pieces.
Work will also begin later this month to re-point the obelisk shaft, replace old and broken stonework and the extensive cleaning of the memorial. A later phase will see new additions including the laying of Purbeck stone paving and creation of a new accessible entrance in to the park that leads to the war memorials.
All of these proposals are largely preventative maintenance, but require specialist works to ensure the quality and integrity of the war memorials is maintained and where possible improved. Funding has been made possible by a £31,280 grant from the War Memorials Trust and a proportion of the National Lottery funding that will cover the landscape improvement elements.
The previous stages of the National Lottery supported Poole Park Life project saw extensive consultation with stakeholders, including the Friends of Poole Park and the local public. Workshops, questionnaires, heritage guided walks and drop-in sessions have all been held where the public have been very supportive.
Cllr John Rampton, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for the Environment, Borough of Poole, said: “Poole Park is ‘the People’s Park’ and is the most loved open space in the area. At the heart of this is the war memorials, being the central and formal focal point and playing the lead role for the town to remember those who have served our country. These improvements are essential to ensure the war memorials are in the best possible condition for years to come and so they continue to reflect the local pride in them.”
Martin Whitchurch, Open Spaces Development Manager, Borough of Poole, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded funding from the War Memorial’s Trust towards the renovation and conservation of this important memorial in the heart of Poole Park. It is our duty to ensure that this memorial remains as a fitting testament to those who gave their lives from Poole in these major conflicts.”
Frances Moreton, Director, War Memorials Trust, added: “War memorials are a tangible connection to our shared past creating a link between the fallen and today. It is vital we ensure all our war memorials are in the best possible condition for their age and the charity is delighted to support this project. The centenary of World War I is a wonderful opportunity for local communities across the country to protect and conserve their war memorials.”
A free Heritage Guided Walk will take place on Saturday 12 May from 11am to 12.30pm. Meeting at the War Memorial, the walk will take in the historic features being restored as well as the history and heritage significance of the features found around Poole Park. Suitable for all ages, there’s no need to book just turn up on the day.
•Photo: Poole Park – Taken by Mr C E Moreton 06 Jun 2007