Marble Arch glistens again after £75,000 restoration

In its long history, Marble Arch has suffered the indignity of being shifted away from Buckingham Palace, stuck in the middle of a roundabout and dumped on by pigeons.

In its long history, Marble Arch has suffered the indignity of being shifted away from Buckingham Palace, stuck in the middle of a roundabout and dumped on by pigeons.

But yesterday a restoration of the famous London landmark was unveiled with pomp, ceremony and a special bird-proofing system.

In a £75,000 project, which has cost almost as much as the original estimate, the arch has been restored to its former glistening glory.

Marble Arch, commissioned by George IV to commemorate Britain's victory over Napoleon, had fallen into a state of disrepair as pollution and grime took its toll.

Over the past three months, the monument has been cleaned and repaired by a team of experts employed by English Heritage.

Philip Davies, the director for the South at English Heritage, said: "Marble Arch is one of London's most famous and popular monuments and we are delighted to have restored it back to its original condition. A lot of missing detail has been repaired, reinstated and recarved and the spectacular bronze gates at the centre of the arch have been re-bronzed and repaired."

He explained that this conservation programme was just the first step in a strategy to improve important parts of the capital's heritage.

"It is vital that we continue to invest in them, which means lighting them to improve their night-time appearance," he said.

Marble Arch was designed by John Nash in 1828 and completed in 1832 to 1833. Made of white Carrara marble, the three archways with their Corinthian columns were largely inspired by the Constantine Arch in Rome.

It was a grand entrance to Buckingham Palace courtyard for 17 years until Queen Victoria demanded it be moved to create extra space for her household.

In 1851 it was moved to its current site at the entrance to Hyde Park - once the location of the Tyburn gallows - and crowds flocked past on their way to the Great Exhibition that year.

At one point it was put to municipal use as one of London's smallest police stations until a replacement was built near by in 1902.

The restorers have now cleaned up the marble and repaired or carefully recarved it to reveal the intricacies of the arch.

The bronze centre gates and the lanterns that illuminate the monument have been repaired, while the metalwork of the side gates has also been repainted and glossed.

Conservationists have installed a bird-proofing system - a series of small spikes which protect the monument from London's feathered population.

An English Heritage spokeswoman explained: "We were trying to keep the pigeons at bay. They were one of the main things we were trying to tackle."

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