Memorial finally glistens again after four-year campaign to retore it to former glory

Years of work and fundraising has finally come to and end after painstaking work on a war memorial was finally restored to its former glory.

Friday, 26th April 2019, 12:05 pm
Updated Friday, 26th April 2019, 12:10 pm
Knottingley War Memorial Restoration Fund Members Lucie McLauchlan, Ann Penistone,Chris Wood, Ron nad Sheila Gosney and Colin Penistone with Ellie and Joshua McLauchlan. Picture Scott Merrylees

Campaigners, whose tireless work to bring Knottingley War Memorial up to scratch, saw them successfully raise tens of thousands for the project.

It was needed to help replace the missing lead lettering on the Chapel Street memorial, while the most delicate job was to restore the bronze angel statue that sits at the pinnacle of the monument.

It had corroded badly inside, worse than an initial survey had first suggested, and was left discoloured having been open to the elements for decades.

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Knottingley War Memorial refurbishment work has been completed. Picture Scott Merrylees

But group member Ann Penistone told the Express: “She is looking absolutely brilliant.

“At one point we did not know if we could take her back to her original colour but it’s been waxed and it’s brought out the natural colour, so we are just so pleased.”

The Grade-II-listed structure carries the names of those who had fought and died in both world wars.

The campaigners approached Wakefield Council about funding a restoration programme in 2015, but were told there was no available cash.

They then managed to raise £15,000 through fundraisers and ‘generous’ donations from residents, businesses and local shops.

However, £2.5 million was set aside by central Government for war memorials and the group began the arduous process of filling out applications.

And last year they were rewarded for their efforts with The War Memorial Trust approved an application for a further £13,500 grant.

This was then bolstered by another £5,500 after the cost of the campaign

Mrs Penistone said: “Getting the grant was what took the longest, but it’s a really big thing for us.

“There’s a lot of hoops you have to jump through, there’d been a lot of paperwork which was hard work, but it felt unbelievable, it was like winning the lottery.”

The restoration took less than months to complete by Calibre Conservation, who won the contract for the job, and it was ready in time for Remembrance Day last year, which saw the 100-year anniversary of the end of the First World War.

The additional money left over by the fundraising was sufficient to help with the upkeep of the memorial and its surroundings. This was then followed by the recent special wax treatment for the angel to help in its preservation.

Mrs Penistone added: “We are just so pleased to have the angel back where she belongs, there were times I thought it would never happen.

“The work carried out has been done to such a high standard she will be there for many generations to come.”

Two months prior to the end of the First World War, September 1918, a committee was formed in Knottingley to consider building a memorial for their fallen heroes.

It was finally unveiled in September 1921 and cost £1,761, money raised by the public.

Made of Cornish grey granite, at its highest point is the bronze figure of Nike, the Greek goddess who personifies victory.

In 1949, again through public subscription, the names from those who gave their lives in the Second World War were added to the monument, this time at a cost of £173.