Wallace Monument to undergo £500k makeover for 150th anniversary

The National Wallace Monument is to undergo a £500,000 makeover ahead of its 150th anniversary next year.

The National Wallace Monument will be given a makeover ahead of its 150th anniversary. Picture: Neil Hanna

The iconic landmark has been prioritised for restoration work by Stirling Council and Stirling District Tourism after a building condition survey revealed “areas of immediate concern”.

Parts of the 220ft tall Victorian Gothic tower, including the Keeper’s Lodge Chimney and Wallace Statue, were identified as in need of work.

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Stirling Council has now approved £515,000 to address the problems, which include water ingress”, in advance of the 150th anniversary celebrations.

The most significant work will involve the 14ft statue of Wallace that has looked over Stirling from the external wall for a century. The bronze will be removed for four months for specialist restoration work, worth £280,000.

Work is expected to start on the Monument and statue later this month.

Stirling Council leader Scott Farmer said: “This decision will safeguard the Wallace Monument’s future by giving it some TLC ahead of its 150th anniversary celebrations next year.

“The word ‘iconic’ gets banded about but I don’t think there’s a better way to describe the National Wallace Monument.

“Wallace’s story is integral to the history of Scotland and the Monument is equally important to the fabric of Stirling, so it is right that we take the necessary steps to ensure it is fit, safe and secure for those who quite rightly come from all over the world to see it.

“These repairs are a priority project and the funding will come from the Capital Programme to allow the works to be progressed immediately.”

The National Wallace Monument first opened in 1869 as a tribute to 13th century freedom fighter Sir William Wallace.

Designed by Glasgow architect John Thomas Rochead, it was constructed on the Abbey Craig overlooking Stirling at a cost of £18,000.

The Monument is now one of Scotland’s most popular landmarks, last year attracting a record 135,000 visitors -- many of whom climbed the 246 spiral steps to the open air crown on top.

The famous statue of Wallace was made by Edinburgh sculptor David Watson Stephenson.

Professor David Mitchell, of Historic Environment Scotland, who are working closely with Stirling Council, said the statue had been a fixture for around 100 years, but would have to be removed for restoration.

He said: “It is probably the most exposed bronze statue in the country. It requires some potentially significant intervention which cannot be undertaken in situ to resolve structural issues.”

Stirling Council is confident the makeover will be completed in time for the Wallace Monument’s official 150th anniversary on 11 September 2019.

Infrastructure Delivery Manager Drew Leslie said: “Last year’s winter had a deteriorating effect through water ingress on the Wallace Monument but this work will ensure it is in a much improved condition for visitors during the 150th anniversary year.

“The removal of the William Wallace statue represents a significant challenge. The internal frame effectively holding the statue together is starting to show signs of deterioration, clearly evident on some of the thinner parts of the bronze surface.

“Restoration experts will work on the statue for four months and when all of the work is complete we are hopeful the Wallace Monument can look forward to another 150 years as one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions.”

Although Stirling District Tourism, an independent charity, manages and operates the Monument as a visitor attraction, it is currently the responsibility of Stirling Council to fund and undertake the work.