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Norwich war memorial revamp only a month from completion

PUBLISHED: 11:06 18 October 2010

The long-running saga over the refurbishment of Norwich’s War Memorial is nearly over after it was confirmed that the improvement work will be completed in time for Armistice Day.

Norwich City Council closed the Memorial Gardens to the public in November 2004 after engineers identified defects within the supporting structure.

However, the finances for the scheme, which involves repairing the structure of the Memorial Gardens building and turning the war memorial to face City Hall, fell through several times, much to the disgust of many of the city’s war veterans.

The long-awaited £2.6m refurbishment finally started work in September 2009 after a deal was struck with the Homes and Communities Agency.

And now city council leader Steve Morphew has confirmed the repaired and refurbished memorial and gardens, which have also been turned to face St Peter’s Street and the parades, will be unveiled on November 11 for Armistice Day and the Remembrance Sunday ceremonies three days later.

Mr Morphew said: “I’m delighted that this important piece of the city’s history is to be unveiled and back in pride of place in time for this year’s remembrance ceremonies.

“This has been many years in the planning and everyone involved has worked extremely hard to make this happen.”

The saga has hung like a millstone around the necks of the city council.

Former BBC broadcaster and ex-MP Martin Bell once said of it that you would have to go to war-torn Iraq to find one in such bad condition.

Earlier this year a trust to protect Norwich’s war memorials for future generations and prevent a repeat of the debacle which left the city’s main monument in a dilapidated state was announced.

Richard Jewson, the Lord Lieutenant for Norfolk, has already agreed to be one of the seven trustees which will oversee the trust, which will accept donations for the future upkeep of the main war memorial opposite City Hall and the others dotted around the city.

Commenting on the latest developments, Victor Howe, president of the Norwich branch of the British Legion, said: “We have been campaigning for this for many years and I am really pleased to see the memorial unveiled in time for this year’s ceremonies.”

What does the revamp of the memorial mean to you? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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