A NEGLECTED town monument that for decades was hidden amid trees and covered with dirt has been unveiled after a £100,000-plus restoration project.
Years of work have culminated in the 76ft Burrard Neale Monument emerging after painstaking attention from underneath scaffolding at its site in Walhampton where it overlooks Lymington.
The granite obelisk was built in 1842 from public funds to honour the achievements of Admiral Sir Harry Burrard Neale, a naval hero who was MP and mayor of Lymington.
Stone for the refurbishment was taken from the same quarry that supplied the construction of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square in London.
The idea of revamping the structure was first raised in 2013 – leading to more than £100,000 being raised for the work and a community education project to raise awareness of Sir Harry’s life and times.
Project chair Don Mackenzie said: “Following the completion of the cleaning and restoration of the monument, the scaffolding has now been removed to reveal a beautiful classical obelisk made from a wonderfully preserved pale grey granite complete with fine carvings and ornamentation.
“The cast iron plaques on the four sides of the monument have been cleaned to remove layers of old paint and are now repainted and the text beautifully picked out in black paint.
“The Burrard Neale team at the Lymington Society is extremely proud, working jointly with the town council to have pulled off this tremendous joint project and to have brought this neglected monument and the surrounding site back to the condition they are in today.”
The idea of clearing the overgrown site and cleaning the discoloured monument was first suggested by Peter Stone, a member of local residents’ group the Lymington Society which raised £23,500 towards it.
It is hoped the restoration will last for many decades after the completion of the work, which kicked off in the spring following a detailed survey and specialist cleaning trials.
The scheme involved cutting back dense growth of laurel and other non-native plants, before stonework was variously reattached and cleaned by sand-blasting and water super-heated to 150C.
Remaining jobs include gaining planning permission for a formal archway entrance and railings at both entrances to the site, and finishing the monument’s paved surround.
The bulk of the funding came from a £97,500 Heritage Lottery Fund grant, but there was also community support with £5,000 from the late Charles Burnett III, and contributions from Lymington and Pennington Town Council and the national park authority.
Mr Mackenzie gave special thanks to Christchurch architects Columba Cook, community group SPUD, Traditional Stone Restoration Ltd, and the town council, which owns the site.
To look after the monument into the future and continue the education initiative, a Friends of Sir Harry group has been set up. To find out more or to get involved visit www.friendsofsirharry.org