REFURBISHING Ringwood’s war memorial has been given the go-ahead after promises by the town council not to change the presentation of the names.
The scheme for the Grade II listed structure in Christchurch Road was for repairing or replacing damaged stones, and restoring worn lettering to the rolls of honour.
But it sparked a strong objection by the London-based War Memorials Trust over the potential for damaging a historical record, and spelling and format mistakes if any names were physically replaced.
The town council had initially planned to “correct” some of the entries based on local research, which also raised concerns from the conservation officer at New Forest District Council, which handled the application.
Amy Reeves from the War Memorials Trust wrote to NFDC: “It is important as much original historic fabric is retained as possible. There is no structural reason to replace the roll of honour.
“Great and careful consideration was made to the inclusion of names on war memorials – it is most likely family members of the fallen were consulted on how their names should be presented.”
She specifically opposed changing the entry of Dorothy Field’s name to match the format of the men, saying: “It would be wrong to impose our modern views of gender equality on a historic record of how contemporaries commemorated their fallen.”
Town clerk Chris Wilkins told the A&T the council would now keep the names as originally inscribed and only replace any of the Italian Nabresina marble on which they are listed if absolutely necessary.
Mr Wilkins said the repairs would be the first major work for 100 years, adding: “It’s a listed structure so we will do the least amount of work we can get away with. It’s about preserving it, not changing it.”
The cost is expected to be between £7,000 and £8,000, with at least half of the funds hoped to come from the War Memorials Trust which hands out grants for such projects. Work is set to start in the spring or summer next year.
An NFDC report said: “Damage to the Nabresina stone is understood to be an inherent risk during the course of works to re-cut the letters.
“However, this needs to be balanced against the otherwise continued loss of the lettering and diminishment of the memoria’s significance, and on balance this public benefit is considered to outweigh the harm in the event the panel has to be replaced.”