Centenary Update: CWGC starts Thiepval restoration

Posted on centenarynews.com on 08 June 2015
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Major works are starting to restore the Thiepval Memorial ahead of next year's commemorations to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Somme, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has announced.

The CWGC describes the project as one of the most important it's undertaken in almost a century of caring for the monuments to the dead of the First World War.

It says the work has been divided into two phases to ensure it avoids the July 2016 commemorations. 

As the CWGC explained earlier this year, wind and rain have their taken their toll on this distinctive memorial soaring over the former battlefields of Northern France.

Phase one, starting this month, will focus on making Thiepval's roofs and pointing watertight for the next 100 years. The aim is to have it completed by March 2016.

Phase two, involving the complete replacement of the rainwater drainage system, won't start until after the Somme Centenary.

The CWGC says: "Like all historic monuments, the memorial is subjected to the elements, and although regularly maintained by the CWGC, there comes a point for every structure when more extensive work is required."

Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the Thiepval Memorial is one of the best known and most visited monuments to Allied soldiers who fell in the Great War.

More than 72,000 British and South African troops who have no known grave are remembered on its multiple arches; the majority of them fell in the offensive of July-November 1916.

Unveiled in 1932, the monument also serves as a memorial to the wartime alliance with France.

Equal numbers of Commonwealth and French war dead are buried in a cemetery within the grounds.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission says access to the Thiepval Memorial will be temporarily restricted until mid-June while scaffolding is erected. Once this is complete, both the memorial and the cemetery will remain open to the public although some name panels will be inaccessible at times. Alternative arrangements will be made. For more details see the CWGC website.

Source: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Images: Centenary News

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News