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Revamped Thames War Memorial about to be unveiled

26 October 2016

The towering war memorial overlooking Thames and the Firth is about to be revealed from the scaffolding that has covered it for the last two months while repairs to its plaster surface have been carried out.

Thames War Memorial covered in scaffolding

(Drone photograph of Thames War Memorial taken by Kester Bradwell, contact at info@camerashy.co.nz)

The work was partly funded by a Lotteries grant of $59,990.

The monument was originally unveiled on ANZAC Day in 1925 and commemorates those from the Thames area who were killed in World War One.

The work requiring scaffolding has been completed but additional work inside and around the base will continue. We expect the full restoration to be complete by 11 November, Armistice Day, the 98th anniversary of the war's end.

"In late 2015 some cracking was noticed on the upper sections of the structure," says our Council's Parks and Reserves Manager Derek Thompson.

“The plaster on the memorial appears not to have had a protective coating applied to it when it was first built, and over time this has led to a deterioration of the plaster," says Mr Thompson. "Coupled with this, there was never a dripline designed or installed on the overhang at the top. We've had 90 years of rain water sheeting across the face, more than would normally be anticipated, slowly eroding the plaster which has, over time, eventually eroded to form a crack," he says.

Thanks to a Lotteries WW1 Commemorations, Environment and Heritage Fund (LWEH) grant we were able to commission a Conservation Management Plan. Then, with a further successful funding bid from LWEH in June, the physical restoration work began in August.

The crack has been repaired, a new coating of plaster applied in the damaged areas and repairs to the top cap carried out to help protect the face of the structure.

Monument and memorial restoration specialists Architectural Building Conservation Ltd have carried out the restoration work while Matthews and Matthews Architects Ltd, who are themselves specialist conservation architects, have been providing oversight in quality control and advice.  Local contractors have been used as much as possible on the scaffolding, security fencing, engineering and electrical work.

As much of the work is restorative, there will not be a dramatic difference to the look of the structure.  The restoration will allow it to stand against time and weather for more years to come, ensuring the continued opportunity for a contemplative space and a place to remember those who served in WWI.

On 11 November after the Armistice Day commemoration outside the Thames War Memorial Civic Centre, a short wreath-laying ceremony will be held at the restored monument.

To find out more about the Coromandel's heritage, including the story of the Thames War Memorial, see our Council's Summertimes magazine.