Roade War Memorial

Existing Monuments

Aug – Nov 2022

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The Roade war memorial in the summer sun

ABOVE: The Roade War Memorial was erected in 1921 and inscribed with souls lost in both WWI & WWII.

Standing gracefully in the heart of Roade, UK, the Roade War Memorial is a striking example of thoughtful design and poignant remembrance. This monument, crafted from beautiful Forest of Dean stone embodies the reverence and gratitude of a community honouring its fallen heroes.

The memorial’s structure begins with a robust two-stepped octagonal base. Rising from this foundation is a tapering square-sectioned plinth, which supports an octagonal-sectioned column. This column, marked by its collar and topped with a wheel cross, stands as a beacon of hope and remembrance.

The plinth is adorned with incised black-painted inscriptions and exhortations. Its meticulous design and meaningful inscriptions make it a focal point for remembrance and a cherished landmark within the community.

BELOW: See on the left the Roade War Memorial wrapped and ready for its unveiling in 1921. On the right shows it’s still standing proud 100 years later.

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Although the memorial itself has proved exceptional resilience for all these years, over time, the elements have taken their toll, necessitating meticulous cleaning and repair work to preserve this historical treasure.

Examining photographs provided by the Roade Local History Society, our team confirmed the necessity for works to address various issues that had developed over time.

A plaque on the side of a war memorial

ABOVE: A commemorative plaque showing evidence the people of Roade care dearly for this memorial.

A plaque on the side of a war memorial

ABOVE: Cracks forming at the base of the memorial.

Assessing the Damage

The first notable concern was the presence of cracks around the bottom of the base, where it met the rough-concrete foundation. From the photographs, it was clear that the lime-mortar jointing, which was quite thick, had begun to deteriorate. Given its limited lifespan, this breakdown was not entirely unexpected.

A plaque on the side of a war memorial
A plaque on the side of a war memorial

ABOVE: The new mortar after careful DOFF cleaning

The Restoration Process

1. Checking and Testing the Mortar

  • The initial step involved a comprehensive inspection of the existing mortar across all sections of the memorial. Any missing, loose, or defective pointing needed to be addressed.
  • We then carefully hand-raked out the faulty mortar using our specialist methods.
  • The joints were then re-pointed with a lime-based mortar, closely matched in constitution, consistency, colour, and texture to the original mix.

2. Addressing the Fissure/Crack:

  • A significant fissure was observed, likely due to the delamination of the pennant sandstone, a common issue for sedimentary rocks formed through the deposition of sediment transported by water, ice, and wind.
  • To remedy this, we applied specialist mortars. This infilled and sealed the fissures, allowing the stone to breathe and protect it for years to come.

BELOW: Even the smallest cracks need to be addressed. War Memorial Conservation Co. artisans are meticulous with stone repair work.

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AFTER

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Specialist Cleaning

3. Cleaning the Cross Element

The intricate cross element of the memorial required careful specialist hand-cleaning. Following the War Memorials Trust’s best conservation practices, we:

    • Gently hand-washed the surfaces with clean, fresh, pH-neutral water, applied via a very low-pressure water spray.
    • Softly agitated the surface dirt using soft-cotton tip cleaning buds. For more stubborn areas, a very soft bristle brush was employed.
    • Repeated the cleaning process multiple times to remove layers of dirt without damaging the stone.
    Stone cross of a war memorial

    ABOVE: The Forest of Dean stone looked incredible after our specialist clean, evident in the memorial’s cross.

    By following these meticulous procedures, we successfully restored the Roade War Memorial to its former glory. This project not only preserved a piece of history but also reinforced our commitment to honouring those who served and sacrificed. Although the memorial now stood revitalised, it appeared that our story working on this memorial was not over.

    Correcting the Inscription on the Roade War Memorial

    Inscription on stone circles for attention

    ABOVE: A spelling correction was required for Pte G.F. Harbage

    We faced the challenge of correcting an inscription error on the Roade War Memorial. The goal was to rectify the mistake without leaving any traces of the alteration, ensuring the memorial retained its historical integrity. A name inscribed on one of the faces of the memorial, had a spelling mistake. The name Pte G.F. Harbidge needed to be changed to ‘Harbage’ meaning a letter ‘A’ had to replace the current ‘I’ and ‘D’.

    The Proposed Solution

    To completely rectify the problem, our preferred method involved re-facing the inscription surface to provide a fresh canvas for re-engraving the memorial correctly. However, there were alternative approaches we considered.

    Over-Cladding

    One suggestion was to over-clad the face with a matching piece of stone. This new stone could be engraved with the complete inscription, including the correct spelling of the name. It would’ve involved carefully sectioning out the incorrect surname and indenting a matching section of stone with the correct spelling. However, we did not recommend this method because, despite our best efforts, a rectangular joint would be visible upon close inspection, creating a noticeable “halo” effect.

    The Chosen Method

    After careful consideration, we decided to over-engrave the correct “A,” replicating the existing “A” on the memorial. This delicate work required the expertise of a skilled and experienced master letter carver.

    See the original breakdown of the proposal here.

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    AFTER

    BEFORE

    AFTER

    ABOVE: Whatever the reason behind the mistake, we’re proud to have been given the opportunity to put it right.

    Steps Taken

    1. Hand Carving

    The new “A” was hand-carved on site, replacing the incorrect letters. Once engraved, the remnants of the replaced letters were in-filled using a colour-matched filler. This filler was created using a specialist stone adhesive mixed with stone dust ground from the same stone as the original memorial to achieve a close colour match.

    2. Smoothing and Painting

    The filled areas were then smoothed to blend seamlessly with the surrounding stone. The new “A” was carefully hand-painted with black enamel to match the existing lettering.

    3. Adjust the Gap

    Using an exact replica of the original “A” resulted in a slightly larger gap between the new “A” and the adjacent letters, as it replaced two letters, “I” and “D.” To mitigate this, the craftsman subtly widened the new “A” to close the gaps slightly without distorting the letter. This balance was essential to maintain the aesthetics of the memorial.

    Conditions

    The work was carried out in warm, dry conditions to ensure the safety of the craftsman and the optimal environment for engraving, filling, and painting. This careful approach avoided the need for a tented temporary work housing around the memorial.

    By meticulously following these steps, we successfully corrected the inscription on the Roade War Memorial, preserving its dignity and historical accuracy. The memorial now stands as a flawless tribute to the brave individuals it commemorates, free from any visible signs of alteration.

    A stone war memorial on a grass lawn

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