St Martins War Memorial

Existing Monuments

August 2023

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Stone, Brass, Royal Marines

The St Martins War Memorial in Shrewsbury is a beautiful monument. It is constructed from local sandstone, and features a Celtic High Cross with deep-carved Celtic-knot design. This is set on a small plinth atop a tapered dye-base, which in turn is set on a front-splayed, matching plinth.

The memorial sits enclosed by metal railings and a front-entry gate, and surrounded by a low red-brick wall on the rear and two sides.

Our job was to address the significant weathering the memorial has suffered over the years and restore its magnificent presence.

BEFORE

AFTER

BEFORE

AFTER

ABOVE: Significant biological growths were clearly evident on the memorial before our work started – fast forward to the time of our departure and the memorial has transformed.

At the time of our first visit, it was evident that the memorial had weathered, with its surface finely encrusted with biological growths such as algae and lichen, as well as carbon deposits from air pollutants. The rural location encouraged biological growths due to the proximity of vegetation, while the nearby busy road contributed to the carbon deposits and possible minor structural movements that could deteriorate the mortar jointing.

We therefore set to carefully cleaning the memorial using our trusted DOFF method to remove deposits, remove growths and restore the aesthetics of the sandstone.

BELOW: The memorial had indeed seen better days, evidently upon a closer look at all materials it is composed of.

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ABOVE: Professional DOFF cleaning commences on the monuments and the surrounding areas. The image on the right shows just how effective this method of cleaning is when done by War Memorial Conservation Co.

Another issue we had to address was that some mortar joints had begun to fail or crack. If the failing pointing was not addressed soon, it would lead to rapid deterioration of the memorial and masonry, allowing water penetration which could cause frost damage and allow vegetation to grow within the missing mortar areas. This had already begun in several areas, and immediate action was needed to prevent significant structural issues.

After carefully checking and testing all existing mortar after cleaning. Any missing, loose, or defective pointing was removed, the joints brushed and cleaned then re-pointed to closely match the original.

Granite, memorial, hand painted

ABOVE: Mortar cracking between the base of the memorial and the plinth. It was essential we addressed this as quickly as possible – and we did.

The memorial was engraved on the front face of the Cross, the main front inscription panel, and the front and inclined face of the matching base. These inscriptions, hand-carved using deep-v-cutting techniques, were naturally shadowed to enhance legibility. There was no evidence that the letters had ever been enhanced with enamel or paint.

The cleaning did indeed enhance the inscriptions’ legibility however there were a number of characters that required one of our skilled craftsmen to use original techniques and styles to further enhance them.

A small granite plaque sat at the base of the memorial also required enhancement to its lettering, this by way of 23.5ct gold gilding by one of our experienced artisans. 

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ABOVE: The black granite plaque required attention. Our 23.5ct gold leaf brings out inscription beautifully.

Finally, the black paint coating on the metal fencing and gate surrounding the memorial appeared to be failing, with visible rust. We stripped the remnants of the existing paint, treating the metal and repainting with two coats of high-grade external metal enamel paint, seen below.

Granite, memorial, hand painted

To conclude, our main works included:

1. Professionally DOFF cleaning the memorial and foundation 

2. Defective mortar removed and re-pointed

3. Specialist repairs to cracks/delamination/damaged areas of the masonry

4. Repairs to cracked flower vase

5. Re-gilded inscription on the black granite inclined plaque

6. Re-paint the surrounding railings and gate

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