One of Scotland’s most iconic war memorials – The Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge – is to receive a major overhaul to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the unveiling of the statue as well as the 80th anniversary of the Royal Marines taking the Commando role.
Work at the memorial garden site will begin on 14 March with an estimated contract period of 6 weeks.
During this period there will be no public access to the memorial garden.
In addition, repair and conservation works to the memorial will begin a few weeks later which will see the whole monument scaffolded and sheeted for a number of weeks.
The estimate for completion of works to the whole site is mid-June.
Working in partnership, The Highland Council, Commando Association, RMA – The Royal Marines Charity and War Memorials Trust have funded different elements of the major improvements to the memorial garden as well as commissioning repairs and appropriate cleaning of the Grade A Listed sculpture.
Substantial donations donated by the public at the site have also made these works possible.
With a total contract cost of over £150,000 the works will include building a low wall to enclose and protect the memorial garden, installation of improved access and siting of a central stone, very appropriately provided by Achnacarry Estate.
The bronze statue and stone plinth will be carefully cleaned, and the flagstone surrounds repaired and repointed.
Prior to works starting, all the tributes will be photographed in situ, carefully removed, safely stored and repositioned once the works are complete.
Chair of Highland Council’s Communities and Place Committee, Cllr Allan Henderson said:
“The Commando Memorial is recognised throughout the world as the most fitting tribute to the courage of the Commandos since they first formed in 1940.
“The Highland Council is proud to maintain this site which is now visited by over 100,000 people each year.
“We value the close relationship we have with both the Commando Association and RMA – The Royal Marines Charity which ensures the Commando Memorial site is always maintained and managed to the highest standard.
“We’re particularly grateful to RMA – The Royal Marines Charity for its substantial funding, to War Memorials Trust for its generous grant, to the Commando Association for their funding – and also to the public who donate so generously when visiting this area.”
Recognising the high level of visitors to the Memorial it’s important that visitors are warned before travelling that the site and the Memorial itself will both be inaccessible physically and for photography as the Memorial will be covered in scaffolding and sheeted.
Jonathan Ball, Chief Executive of RMA – The Royal Marines Charity said:
“RMA – The Royal Marines Charity is honoured to support the Highland Council in its project to undertake significant renovations to the iconic Commando Memorial and Memorial Garden.
“More than ever, the Memorial will be a focal point for Royal Marines in this 80th anniversary year of the Corps adopting the Commando role and beginning training at Achnacarry.
“We are pleased that this project has brought us into closer partnership with the Council and the Commando Association, and we thank them for their hard work and collaboration.”
Peter Oxley, National Secretary of the Commando Association and Assistant secretary David Matthews said:
“The Commando Memorial, known to many as “The Three Men on the Hill” and the Memorial Garden are recognised by the worldwide Commando family as our spiritual home.
“The Commando Association cherishes the relationship it has with the communities of Lochaber which have grown over the years since the Memorial was unveiled.
“We would also like to thank the Highland Council and the Royal Marines Association for their generous funding which has enabled this much needed work to be carried out.
“We are certain that once all renovations and building works are completed, the Monument will once again stand proud in the wonderful landscape and the Commando motto “United We Conquer” will once again be clear for all to see.”
Frances Moreton, Director, War Memorials Trust said:
“War memorials are touchstones to our past.
“Preserving them maintains the link between those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and later generations who benefit from the freedoms for which they fought.
“War memorials also remind us of the full cost of war so we can hopefully learn the lessons which help us avoid conflict, and further loss, in future.
“War Memorials Trust is pleased to assist this project to improve the condition of the war memorial.
“If anyone knows of any other war memorials in need of help, please contact us or, if you believe in the importance of our work, support us as we are a charity so can only give further grants if we raise enough money.”