Fresh concerns over the future of Market Harborough’s rare “portico” war memorial has led to the formation of a new committee dedicated to moving it to the Memorial Gardens.
And the Mail is giving its backing to the campaign.
The war memorial would be moved piece by piece from its current site at the town’s Cottage Hospital on Coventry Road, for a five-figure sum.
At present the highly unusual memorial - which contains the names of all 1,655 people from Market Harborough who fought in the First World War - is an ornate, pillared entrance porch to the town’s Cottage Hospital.
But the NHS plans to sell the Cottage Hospital when the new St Luke’s Hospital on Leicester Road is completed.
For both the NHS and any future developer of the site, the Grade II listed war memorial may be viewed as “a nuisance to be worked around”. It could reduce the value of the site if it remains where it is.
But the new, town-based committee hopes to move the war memorial before the site is re-developed.
Mark Robinson, who is chair of the group, said: “We have studied several sites but ideally relocation into the Memorial Gardens would work well. There are issues to resolve in terms of planning, financing the cost and working with all the parties before this can happen to achieve the best outcome for the town and the memory of the 1,655.”
The group has had preliminary discussions with the NHS, Harborough District Council and Historic England.
Mr Robinson said: “It is vital that this important memorial is safeguarded, especially as the Cottage Hospital was funded by local subscription before it became an NHS asset.”
War memorials expert Denis Kenyon added: “This rare memorial is an important part of the town’s history and must be safeguarded.”
Former council conservation officer Rosalind Willatts, who was instrumental in getting the memorial listed, said: “We’ve been talking about relocating this memorial for 10 years. Now it’s time to act.”