We had been aware of the 6th Gloucesters memorial at its post-second World War location in St Michael on the Mount Without for some time and had been keen to assess its state during the period in which the church was occupied by squatters. Our concerns rose after the October 2016 fire at the church which destroyed the roof and damaged so much of the interior.
Clive liaised regularly with the Diocese of Bristol who provided assurances that the memorial remained undamaged and had been boxed up and placed in the crypt. After the building was acquired by Norman Routledge, a local developer who plans to turn it into an arts venue and community space, Clive got in touch to enquire about the memorial and was told we were welcome to go and have a look! So, it was with trepidation that we visited on 29 November and eventually found the panels packed up in a crate up near the altar. Our sense of relief at seeing these was immense!
With building work ongoing we quickly sought permission from Norman to have the memorial removed by experts at Cliveden Conservation for assessment and cleaning. This was quickly granted along with an agreement that the memorial could be installed in the church crypt once the building restoration is completed. Norman also kindly agreed that we could provide interpretive information panels to tell the story of the memorial and the Bristolian men it commemorates.
We had a busy fortnight with regular visit to the church, during which we recorded an interview with BBC Radio Bristol. The story was also covered on the BBC website: World War One memorial survives second fire.
On 16 December we helped the team from Cliveden Conservation remove the memorial from the church crypt. We are delighted to say that it looks in great condition and cannot wait to see it cleaned.
So far the costs have been borne from our own pockets but, once we have a better idea of total restoration costs plus quotes for the information panels we will be asking for help to fund the conservation work. We hope you will be able to help in preserving this important part of Bristol’s First World War heritage!
JB & CB