A major restoration of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) largest memorial has moved a step closer to completion.
The CWGC will work with specialist partners Monument Group to oversee the second phase of work preserving the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme – located in Authuille, northern France.
Having completed phase one of the work at Thiepval, which included repairs to the roof, rainwater pipes and brickwork above the main arch, the second phase will start in March 2021.
This will be a continuation of the previous work which started in 2014, along with adding drainage, waterproofing, restoration of name panels, re-laying paving and securing the outer layer of stone.
It will also see the erection of scaffolding on the monument, with the project set to be completed in May 2022.
CWGC director-general Barry Murphy said for nearly 100 years the memorial has stood "as a monument to the sacrifice of those killed on the Somme".
"We look forward to working with our partners, Monument Group, in completing this vital restoration work so that new generations will be inspired by the incredible stories of those named on its walls," he added.
Throughout much of the restoration period, the memorial and name panels will not be accessible to the public.
Instead, a digital exhibition – In The Shadow of Thiepval –will be available for visitors to explore, which can be accessed while visitors are on-site using a smartphone or tablet.
The exhibition will tell the story of the Battle of the Somme, the construction of the memorial and the individuals commemorated on its walls.
A virtual display of the memorial panels will also be included in the exhibition.
The adjoining cemetery and the Thiepval Visitor Centre will remain open as usual during the works.
Restoration work had originally been planned to start in January this year but was delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Thiepval Memorial commemorates more than 72,000 missing war dead of the Battle of the Somme in 1916.
It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens – also the designer of the Cenotaph in central London – and unveiled by the Prince of Wales in August 1932.
Cover image: Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme in northern France (Picture: CWGC).