A request made by former Mayor Rex Barnett in 2011 to have Swindon’s World War One memorial restored and rehomed will finally be realised this week when the large plaque honouring the names of more than 900 of Swindon’s fallen is unveiled at the Council’s Civic Offices in Euclid Street.
The project to bring the memorial back to its former glory gathered momentum three years ago when Cllr Garry Perkins, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for heritage, asked the Council’s Museums and Heritage team to find alternative locations for the Borough’s memorial and secure the external funding necessary to complete the restoration.
The war memorial and cenotaph were purchased together by public subscription soon after the Great War in 1918 as a permanent reminder of the sacrifices made by Swindon’s fallen.
Previously housed in the Old Town Hall, Regent Circus, the plaque succumbed to water damage with a number of the inscribed wooden panels becoming warped over time.
After a nationwide search, specialist conservator Hugh Harrison was found to undertake a full conditions survey of the memorial and was commissioned last year to start the long and painstaking process of returning the memorial back to its former glory.
Speaking ahead of the official unveiling of the memorial, Cllr Perkins, said: “I’m delighted we finally have this important memorial fully restored and back on public display and can give the men listed and their families the recognition they deserve for the sacrifices made for our town during World War One.
“Finding a new home for the plaque wasn’t easy due to its sheer size and we wanted to maintain the close links the memorial has with the cenotaph – so the Civic Offices was the obvious choice. We were determined to complete this project within the centenary of the Great War (2014 – 2018) and for the Council to mark this major conflict.”
The memorial which is made of solid oak with gilded lettering measures an impressive 10’11” high and 11’5” wide.
An official unveiling will take place at the Civic Offices tomorrow (Nov 9) at 3pm and will be attended by the Mayor Swindon Cllr Maureen Penny, Council Leader Cllr David Renard, Cllr Perkins and Sandra Barnett, wife of the late Cllr Rex Barnett.