Natural England - Wychbury Obelisk restoration work complete

Wychbury Obelisk restoration work complete

12 October 2010

One of the West Midlands’ historical gems has been restored and stabilised with the help of Natural England.

Wychbury Obelisk, built in the 18th century, is 84 ft tall and an iconic feature that dominates the local landscape. The Obelisk can even be seen from as far away as the Clee Hills in Shropshire.

Time has taken its toll on the Obelisk, and over the years the ever changing weather conditions have forced the monument into a state of disrepair to the extent that it appears on English Heritage`s Buildings at Risk register. Urgent action was needed, so the Obelisk was incorporated into a Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreement with Natural England who have provided the funding for the survey and restoration work.

An initial survey report showed that the Obelisk was becoming structurally dangerous, and repair work was needed immediately. A steel 'corset' was then fitted in order to stabilise the monument while the repair work took place, then every single stone was removed and assessed for conservation re-use (where possible) or replacement.

Thanks to Mark Van Oss & Associates’ project team, the dedication and construction skills of Midland Conservation Limited and around 100 people from the local community getting involved, the monument has now been restored to its former glory.

Mark Van Oss said:

“Projects like this are important for local communities as the benefits of the employment of so many people are felt at every level. The skills of local craftspeople are maintained thanks to the use of traditional building skills, and training has been provided to the next generation”.

Lord Cobham who owns Hagley Hall said:

“This is the culmination of efforts that were started by the local community 50 years ago to rescue this important landmark. We are all profoundly grateful to Natural England, without whom this could never have happened. There is a time capsule being placed in the top which includes contributions from students at Haybridge High School, a silver plaque from the Goldsmiths Company with this year’s hallmarks on it and a locally manufactured Acme Thunderer whistle to carry a sound of the present into the future!”

Helen Trapp, Natural England adviser said :

“We are delighted that Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) has helped complete the restoration of Wychbury Obelisk, and that Natural England has been able to support Lord Cobham in safeguarding this iconic monument. Without this vital restoration work the condition of the Obelisk would have deteriorated and this special feature of the West Midlands landscape may have been lost forever.”

-Ends-

Notes to editors

For more information, contact Dean Gallen on 0300 060 1079 or email dean.g.gallen@naturalengland.org.uk

About Natural England

Natural England is the government’s independent adviser on the natural environment. Established in 2006 our work is focused on enhancing England’s wildlife and landscapes and maximising the benefits they bring to the public.

  • We establish and care for England’s main wildlife and geological sites, ensuring that over 4,000 National Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest are looked after and improved.
  • We work to ensure that England’s landscapes are effectively protected, designating England’s National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Marine Conservation Zones, and advising widely on their conservation.
  • We run Environmental Stewardship and other green farming schemes that deliver over £400 million a year to farmers and landowners, enabling them to enhance the natural environment across two thirds of England’s farmland.
  • We fund, manage, and provide scientific expertise for hundreds of conservation projects each year, improving the prospects for thousands of England’s species and habitats.
  • We promote access to the wider countryside, helping establish National Trails and coastal trails and ensuring that the public can enjoy and benefit from them.

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