Monday, 23 July 2018

Residents consulted over war memorial revamp

RESIDENTS of Whitchurch and Whitchurch Hill are being consulted on plans to refurbish the villages’ war

RESIDENTS of Whitchurch and Whitchurch Hill are being consulted on plans to refurbish the villages’ war memorial at a cost of £19,000.

The monument at the top of High Street in Whitchurch was built in 1920 and its obelisk was snapped in half by a gale in 1989.

It was originally topped with an ornate Celtic-style cross but after it was damaged the stump was levelled off and a simpler cross added.

Now Martin Wise, a member of Goring Heath Parish Council, says it should be restored to its original condition, which would cost £8,500. He hopes to seek grants providing that the idea is supported by villagers. Councillor Wise also wants to improve the dirt path leading to the memorial at a cost of £3,000. He says the path has been eroded so that elderly people struggle to use it when visiting to pay their respects.

Cllr Wise has also suggested having an information plaque with biographies of the 25 First World War casualties named on the monument. This would cost £1,000.

The servicemen were researched by amateur historian Mike Willoughby, from Woodcote, as part of the Lest We Forget project and he unearthed details of another nine local men whose names are not on the memorial.

The revamp would also include landscaping the seating area and planting a new hedge, at a cost of £5,000, and cleaning the stonework for £1,500.

The War Memorial Trust could pay for all the work except the landscaping and the plaque so the parish councils would have to fund these.

Cllr Wise would like the makeover to be completed by November 2018, the centenary of the Armistice.

Whitchurch Parish Council has agreed to carry out consultation and forms are being circulated to residents. Cllr Wise said: “I had the idea on Remembrance Sunday when I realised some of the elderly people were having trouble getting up the hill and back.

“I realised the memorial needed better access and that started me thinking about what else we could improve.

“The cross was smashed to bits in 1989 and would have been too expensive to restore but it’s easier now with computer-assisted technology.

“It will have to be a joint venture with equal support from both parishes.

“War memorials can be a sensitive issue and some might feel it’s perfectly adequate and doesn’t need any further work.

“However, I’m sure we can put some improvements in place that will see it through for another 100 years.” Jim Donahue, a member of Whitchurch Parish Council, said: “I’ve talked to a number of people about this and most think it’s a good idea in principle — it does need to be cleaned at a minimum.

“However, some people are happy with the shorter column and fear a taller one could be damaged again so we need to bear that in mind.”

To download a feedback form, visit www.whitchurch

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