Lord Hill's Column replacement 'could be years away'

Lord Hill statue
Image caption Heavy rain, frost and snow have caused damage to the statue

It could be three years before a weather-ravaged statue can be replaced, it has been revealed.

Scaffolding was erected around Lord Hill's Column in Shrewsbury in September to protect passers-by from falling debris.

It has cost Shropshire Council more that £40,000 to maintain it.

But the community group Friends of Lord Hill's Column said the scaffolding had been up longer than originally planned because of bad weather.

The column was first cordoned of in 2012 when pieces of the statue fell to the ground.

It is dedicated to Shropshire-born General Rowland Hill, the second-in-command to the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo.

'Simply wasn't safe'

Shropshire Council revealed last September the scaffolding would cost £36,500 to hire for six months, with structural engineering fees of up to £3,000 on top of that.

The authority said it "would provide protection for the duration of the winter period" but that it would cost £550 for each additional week, beyond the initial six months.

The Reverend Richard Hayes, chair of the Friends group, said: "The reason it has been up a little longer than expected is we had an exceptionally windy and extremely wet winter and it simply wasn't safe for people to be working at height."

He said some remedial work had been possible, "so that those pieces that were flaking and falling off have been secured".

But this was described by Mr Hayes as "phase one" of a longer operation, that he said could take three years, "to get the statue replicated in Coade stone, the artificial stone which the original was made of".

He explained that the group was still looking for funding to carry out the work and it needed to find a suitable contractor. It is then expected to take 18 months to build a replacement for the damaged statue.

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