The protection and conservation of war memorials is the focus for charity War Memorials Trust which was formed in 1997. There are estimated to be over 100,000 war memorials in the UK. Many of these are treasured but sadly others are neglected and vandalised or left to suffer the effects of ageing and weathering. To help combat this the Trust provide free advice and information to anyone as well as administering grant schemes for the repair and conservation of war memorials. The charity has also developed a youth focused Learning Programme to educate young people in schools and youth groups about their war memorial heritage.
In Scotland the Trust administers the Centenary Memorials Restoration Fund (CMRF) on behalf of Historic Environment Scotland and the Scottish Government. £1 million is available, up until March 2018, to help communities undertake repair and conservation works to war memorials. Underpinning the grant scheme is best conservation practice; ensuring that any works supported are appropriate to the memorial, in-line with methods that will minimise any potential damage and offer the greatest chance of supporting long-term preservation.
Four years into the scheme, the CMRF has awarded 99 grants totalling £783,000. So whilst funding remains we are encouraging people to get their applications in quickly to secure a share. The scale of grants varies considerably. The Fintry Kirk stained glass window in Stirling was awarded a grant of £430. Due to exposure to weathering there was a build-up of dirt on the memorial stained glass window. A small number of stained glass panes were cracked or damaged. In addition, the exterior protective glazing has been damaged and the joints in the surrounding stone mullions had cracked. To address these issues work was undertaken to clean and repair the stained glass window. Like-for-like replacements of areas of the protective glazing was undertaken while the joints in the stone mullions were re-pointed with a lime based mortar.
At the other end of the scale Kirkintilloch war memorial in East Dunbartonshire was awarded a grant of £57,240. The inappropriate cementitious mortar pointing had severely deteriorated and was causing a number of conservation issues for the masonry including water ingress, plant growth and areas of gypsum deposits gathered on the marble cladding. The pointing that did remain was stained and unsightly. Some of the masonry was damaged, including severe cracks, and some previous repairs had failed. The cast iron gates showed signs of corrosion. The marble cladding had gathered superficial surface grime while the bronze plaques were weathered and dull in appearance. To address these issues a thorough appraisal of the condition of the memorial was undertaken and a programme of works drawn up. Repair and, where necessary, replacement was undertaken to the marble, the failed mortar was carefully raked out across the memorial and then re-pointed using a lime mortar. Vegetation was removed and the stone cleaned. Repairs were undertaken to the stone copes and leadwork while the bronze elements and iron work were cleaned and treated.
Grant giving has been central to War Memorials Trust’s efforts since the charity began, therefore in the 20th anniversary of the foundation of the charity, it was wonderful to receive recognition for this work. On 23rd February 2017 the Trust was awarded the Directory of Social Change Great Giving Funders Award, voted for by the public. The award recognised funders which demonstrate a clear understanding of their beneficiaries and the funding environment and are committed to improving grant making by giving clear guidance and support. That description outlines exactly what we aim to do!