A show of public support is needed if campaigners are to save a piece of British heritage which has found a home in Clitheroe for 78 years.
Tucked away in the grounds of Clitheroe Castle is what appears, at first glance, to be a rather odd-looking monument – not a statue or individual artwork, but an ornate and intricate pinnacle, set on a stone plinth.
Only on closer inspection does a brass plaque reveal it is a pinnacle – or turret – which once adorned the roofline of the Houses of Parliament, London, one of the nation’s most architecturally significant buildings.
The pinnacle dates from the rebuilding of the Houses of Parliament after a serious fire in 1834. Unfortunately part of the rebuild was affected by London’s pollution – which was much worse in the 1800s – and the pinnacle had to be dismantled and taken down.
Its connection with Clitheroe is thanks to Sir William Brass, the town’s MP for 23 years, from 1922 to his death in 1945. He thought the historic pinnacle would make a fitting feature to mark the coronation of King George VI in 1937, so he duly presented it to the people of Clitheroe to “Give something to this ancient borough which came from the Mother of Parliaments”.
Sir William paid for the pinnacle’s expensive transport and erection and also for creating the rose garden around it as a suitable setting. He was a generous friend to Clitheroe in many ways and his obituary in The Clitheroe Advertiser and Times for August 31st, 1945, shows how widespread nationally was the admiration for “Billy Brass”.
Sadly, after almost 80 years, the Clitheroe Pinnacle is in need of significant work to preserve it for generations to come. Ironwork within it is corroding, damaging the stonework, and without restoration it will crumble.
That is something Clitheroe Civic Society is determined will not happen. For several months now a working group from the society has lived and breathed the Pinnacle Project.
The key to its succes is, of course, funding, and the group is hopeful of winning a Lottery Heritage Grant to pay for most of the work. But, in order for its bid to succeed, it needs to demonstrate strong local support for the project before a January 30th deadline.
There are two ways local people can back the Pinnacle Project: firstly by signing the petition now circulating in a large number of shops, as well as at Clitheroe Library and the Platform Gallery, Station Road. An online petition is aslo available at: www.clitheroecivicsociety.webs.com
Secondly, go to a public meeting next Wednesday, January 28th, at 7-30 pm at Ribble Valley Borough Council chambers in Church Street, Clitheroe, to learn more about the processes involved in saving the listed monument. The project architect, Ivan Wilson, and project leader, retired architect Steve Burke, will be the speakers and everyone is invited.
Mr Burke explained: “We aim to conserve this unique monument, which has been in the borough and loved by generations. Future generations should be given the chance to admire this amazing design by Barry and Pugin, two of the most renowned Victorian architects.
“The pinnacle will have to be dismantled, the corroded iron cramps removed and replaced by stainless steel, then carefully rebuilt using only lime mortar. Quite an undertaking!”
He added: “We have already got project partners at Pendle Primary School, the University of Central Lancashire, the Pendle Club, Salford University, Lancashire County Council’s library and museum services, local MP Nigel Evans, Ribble Valley Borough Council and Clitheroe Town Council. So please add your support ... sign the petition and come to the meeting on January 28th.”