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Tower Hill Memorial must be refurbished to stop water damage

PUBLISHED: 07:00 27 December 2018

Remembrance Sunday service at Tower Hill Memorial, Trinity Square Gardens. Picture: Alex Shaw

Remembrance Sunday service at Tower Hill Memorial, Trinity Square Gardens. Picture: Alex Shaw

Alex Shaw

The Tower Hill Memorial must be refurbished to stop water damage which has become a "persistent problem", according to the authority responsible for commemorating the Commonwealth's fallen soldiers.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) has proposed several alterations to Grade I-listed Mercantile Marine Memorial at Tower Hill.

In documents submitted to Tower Hamlets Council, the commission said it had spent “a number of years” trying to understand the “root causes of the ongoing issues surrounding the water ingress to the building”.

The memorial, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens who was also the architect behind Cenotaph in Whitehall, faces the River Thames and was unveiled by Queen Mary on December 12 1928.

It commemorates the names of the 12,000 Merchant Navy personnel who lost their lives at sea during World War One.

“The condition of the memorial has deteriorated to a level that the symptoms of this water ingress are clearly visible,” the CWGC said.

“If this underlying cause is not remedied then the concern is that water will affect the steel and reinforced concrete structure behind the Portland stone cladding, speeding the deterioration and the future requirement for intrusive repairs to the memorial.”

The commission has ask liaised with Historic England and council officers before asking for permission to install new copings, remove the memorial’s lead roof and introduce a ventilation system.

Tower Hamlets Council said: “The nature of the works to the upper parts of the memorial was discussed, which are intended to deal with persistent water ingress problems which are have been causing damage to the structure over many years.

“When complete, visible changes to the appearance of the structure would be very minor including several enlarged perpends (the vertical gap between stones), small weep holes in the soffit and a vent on top of the low dome which surmounts the memorial.

“The proposals are carefully considered and we would welcome an application along these lines intended to solve the problem of water ingress.”

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