Community Fundraiser and Engagement Officer (Wellington Monument)
National Trust – Somerset Coast & Countryside
National Trust Estate Office, Fyne Court, Broomfield, Somerset, TA5 2EQ
(Office 01823 451587 Mobile 07533 075225
We’re pleased to be able to update you on the continued progress at Wellington monument.
We are delighted that we now have just under £380,000 to raise. The project was one of a handful that the National Trust were able to continue despite the impact of the first wave of Covid-19. It is still on track to finish at the end of May 2021 and we are working to understand the impact of the latest restrictions though are hopeful that construction can continue
Throughout these difficult days, Wellington Monument has continued to bring a sense of hope to us all. Seeing the works continue has been a lifeline for some. One local woman, who has been told to self-isolate, told us how she watches the works from her bedroom window with binoculars.
Around 1,500 stones have now been replaced. The new pyramidion blocks are much larger than the original to reduce water ingress. Some weigh as much as 1,800kg. The only piece of stone that could be re-used was the capstone at the very top of the monument. On 21st October, on a grey drizzling day, a crane had to lift this stone to a height of 73 metres. It was then lowered to 53 metres and back into place with cheers from the onlookers. Coincidentally this was the anniversary of 203 years of the foundation stone being placed. A real moment in history for the monument.
The scaffolding continues to impress; by some it is affectionally called the “Monument launch pad”. There are roughly 250 steps and one stonemason calculated that he had climbed the equivalent of Everest; he is now on the way down! The stone masons are all very proud to be working on this project. A few are local and see the work as their legacy.
As for fundraising, we are collecting donations in return for pieces of monument stone that cannot be reused. A brilliant c£2,500 has been raised so far. People can either pick up their stone from the Monument volunteers on Sundays by the car park or from Odette’s tea-room in Wellington. One person has built a piece into his new fireplace. One fragment has been taken to Wellington, New Zealand whilst another is being sent to someone whose Grandmother was born and bred in Wellington. The Grandmother calls Wellington Monument her ‘birthstone’. Still the stories pour in.
We are about to launch another fundraiser, called Memories in the Monument. All through the project people have told us their memories and their reasons why the monument means so much to them. We wanted to find a safe Covid secure way of letting people place these memories, stories or messages into the structure itself. Hence, we are asking people to send us a small letter on A5 paper with a suggested donation of £50. Their stories will be in the heart of the monument; placed behind the stones in the plinth.
So, enthusiasm is infectious as we know. Maybe it is because we need a glimmer of hope, maybe it is because the project is coming to an end? Maybe it is because people are remembering their times at the monument? Maybe it is because new memories are being created. Whatever it is, Wellington Monument is that place not just for the community but for anyone who has been part of it.
The great news is that some of the Scaffolding will come down next week (December 2020)
Community Engagement and Fundraising Officer