Work has now started to restore Rotherham’s Keppel’s Column and reopen it to the public.
Repair works to the historic monument, which was built between 1773 and 1780 and is situated overlooking Wentworth Woodhouse in Thorpe Hesley, are underway.
The interior has been inaccessible to the public for over 20 years due to the severely broken and eroding staircase and access to the top of the column is currently only via cherry picker.
The restoration project is set to be completed in Spring 2022 to repair the column and make it accessible to the public for the first time in more than two decades, on restricted open days.
Rotherham Council’s Head of Creative Programming and Engagement, Leanne Buchan, said: “It’s great news that work is now underway on such an important monument in the borough.
“Keppel’s Column is such an important landmark within the local community but is in extremely poor state of repair due to significant structural issues including cracking and stonework erosion. The funding will enable us to preserve Keppel’s Column for the future and allow public access to it once again.”
The first stage of the work will be to clear the rubble from inside the Column and begin work on the shaft by installing low level scaffolding to three meters high. Work will then begin internally repairing the stone steps.
The work is being undertaken by Aura who have been conserving many of the UK’s most important listed and historical buildings since 1973. They have worked on Grade I listed Wentworth Woodhouse as part of the first phase of works to protect significant architectural features and interiors.
They are supported by Soul Architects and structural engineers Mason Clark Associate and will be working closely with ecologist B J Collins Protected Species Surveyors to ensure minimal disruption to any nesting birds and local wildlife.
Earlier this year this historic monument became the focal point of its community once again as a Historic England funded programme saw local residents projected onto the full height of the column by artist Matthew Rossier. The Collaborative Connections programme celebrated the landmark that has been part of the community for decades with many sharing stories of climbing its stairs for views across the borough for a penny. Works to restore the column will once again open up access to the top of the landmark making important connections to Wentworth Woodhouse and the remaining follies in the ownership of Fitzwilliam and Wentworth Amenity Trust.
£252,525 funding for the repairs has come from Rotherham Council’s Asset management and capital funding with £207,377 being put forward by Historic England from the second round of the Heritage Stimulus Fund, which is part of the Culture Recovery Fund, and the Fitzwilliam Wentworth Amenity Trust have awarded a grant of £20,000 to support the restoration.